OUT is dedicated to the building of healthy empowered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in South Africa and internationally.
OUT wants to reduce heterosexism and homophobia in society. The organisation work towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender peoples’ physical and mental health and related rights.
OUT has been in existence for over 21 years. Based in Tshwane (Pretoria), OUT’s work takes place on local, provincial, national, continental and international levels. OUT’s focus areas of work are direct health and mental health services, research, mainstreaming and advocacy.
Given inadequate mainstream service provision, the organisation provides direct health and mental health services to LGBT clients and other key populations. This includes targeted HIV/AIDS work, direct health services at OUT’s TEN81 Centre clinic, a telephonic counselling and information line, a vibrant community centre, face to face counselling, community building programmes and spaces, and support groups.
OUT is also involved with various research projects, many of them in collaboration with leading national and international partners. The Advocacy & Mainstreaming Programme aims to ensure legal equality and translating this to day to day experiences. It includes law reform, sensitisation of mainstream service providers, empowering LGBT people to claim their rights, as well as tackling the scourge of hate crimes.
OUT is involved in various alliance based work. It aims to address common issues taken on by progressive LGBT and gender structures.
Although Section 9 (3) of the South African Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, LGBT people still face various forms of discrimination.
South African society is conservative, patriarchal, hetero-normative, and homo-prejudiced. This often results in hate speech directed towards the LGBT community and can lead to more serious offences such as the rape and murder of gay men and lesbian women.
When it comes to mainstream service providers, very few of them are aware of the needs and circumstances of members of the LGBT community and they can even refuse the provision of services. Mainstream service providers very rarely provide appropriate services (such as targeted HIV messaging), are unable to provide relevant LGBT materials to their LGBT clients, and often their policies do not include the interests of LGBT people.
Research is another area where not enough focus is given to LGBT issues. There are almost no national ‘official’ studies where the interests of LGBT people are included. Within the LGBT sector itself, there is limited capacity to conduct relevant research especially if the aim of the research is to obtain valid, reliable and representative data.
OUT is registered with the Department of Social Development as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO). OUT is a member organisation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).