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IAM - Inclusive and Affirming Ministries

IAM works as a catalyst within the mainstream churches towards full inclusion of LGBTI people.

Who are We?

At IAM, we believe that religious fundamentalism, the evil of patriarchy, ignorance around the full diversity of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, in combination with a lack of exposure to diverse interpretations of sacred texts and the lived realities of sexual minorities, stand in the way of true democracy and the full realisation of human rights for all people in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

What we focus on?

IAM focuses on being a catalyst for radical inclusion and the celebration of diversity within religious contexts. The purpose is to empower change agents with knowledge and skills to engage in the building of welcoming, affirming and inclusive faith communities, where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people, their parents, families and friends (PFF) and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) can participate fully and be strengthened in their spiritual, psychological and sexual identity as human being. LGBTI’s in Africa started realising that religious fundamentalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, stigma, shame and forced secrecy are affecting every single LGBTI individual, regardless of whether he or she is a person of faith or not.

Why Religion?

This was fuelled by ever increasing religious homophobia and the slogan that gained popularity that homosexuality is un-African, excluding LGBTI’s from basic human rights. And religious leaders are, in many ways and in many contexts, at the forefront of teaching negatively about sexuality which in turn produces or condones violence against LGBTI people and the retaining or strengthening of anti-homosexuality legislation. While this concern is shared, an alternative constructive religious voice against the detrimental effects is not heard strong enough in Africa.

What is IAM’s challenge?

IAM partners with Human Rights organisations, Faith based organisations and concerned individuals that take serious the strategic engagement of religious leaders and communities to address negative beliefs, stigma and discrimination generated within religious contexts around sexual orientation and gender identity. It is critical to counter the religious condemning attitudes and homo/transphobia through raising awareness (opening minds), creating safe spaces for dialogue encounters (opening hearts) and concrete actions of change (opening doors).

How does IAM work?

IAM works as a catalyst, lobbying and educating people on all levels of faith community participation to raise their awareness of diversity regarding sexual orientation and faith interpretation, to re-examine their beliefs and attitude towards homosexuality and engage in dialogue as best method to manage diversity in an affirming and inclusive way. IAM prioritises the empowerment, education and training of LGBTI organisations and concerned individuals in targeted African countries to become more integrated (sexuality with spirituality) human beings so that they are able and equipped to contribute to the liberation of their constituencies from internalised homophobia, ignorance and lack of exposure to diverse theological interpretations.

IAM encourages all partners to become mature dialogue partners who can influence the religious leadership. IAM resources (documentaries, Bible studies, leaflets, brochures, etc.) are designed to support LGBTI and PFF people to create positive change, based on IAM’s theory of change.

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