Africa’s first Queer Wellness Centre opened in Johannesburg in March, providing clients with stigma-free sexual and mental health services, as well as treatments that focus specifically on LGBTI+ people’s needs.
LGBTI+ South Africans said the centre would spare gay and transgender people the shame, rejection and confusion they often faced when seeking medical care.
Africa has some of the world’s most prohibitive laws against homosexuality and South Africa is the only country on the continent to allow same-sex marriages.
“We hope that other African countries will see that if we can do this, then it is possible for them to do it too,” says Mzamo Mbelle, a medical doctor working with the centre.
Co-founder of the Queer Wellness Centre, Claudia Do Vale, says she used her life savings of about R1-million to build the centre after noticing that LGBTQI+ members did not always get the care that was needed.
Historically, members of the LGBTQI+ community from around the world have faced a lack of adequate access to quality medical services and homophobia across various spheres of society.
“We face homophobia in schools, workspaces and hospitals. We so appreciate having a safe space like this,” Thami Kotlolo, a member of the LGBTI+ community, said at the launch of the centre.
Founders of the Queer Wellness Centre say it will give their patients stigma-free mental and sexual health operations.