Projects supported by Rainbow Kick-Off


In this series we will present projects supported by Rainbow Kick-off, the most recent programmatic undertaking by RFSL’s international department in co-operation with Rainbow Foundation. 

Rainbow Kick-off is a small-grants funding mechanism born out of a strong need to support LGBTQI groups, organizations and individuals that are often underrepresented and underfunded even within the LGBTQI communities. For its first call in 2019 Rainbow Kick-off focused on supporting trans and intersex groups and organizations in Southern and East Africa as well as Southeast Asia.  

Read more about Rainbow Kick-off here.

PROJECT: Safer Alternatives
ORGANIZATION: Al-Fatah Islamic Boarding School for Trans Women
COUNTRY: Indonesia

As LGBTQI communities in Indonesia are facing several waves of crackdown by the government in recent years, making a living has become increasingly difficult for LGBTQI persons. 

In Yogyakarta the local government recently outlawed street singing – a source of income for many older trans women – thus making it challenging to make a living. 

Al-Fatah, a unique Islamic boarding school for trans women in Yogyakarta, wants to counter this and provide trans women with more and better alternatives to make a living.  

In May, the school organized a two-week training for 40 trans women – street singers and sex workers – in trans rights and alternative income-generating activities as massage and makeup skills. The training was supported by Rainbow Kick-off. 

“To support income-generating activities is crucial, as an issue of livelihood for many LGBTQ persons around the world,’’ said Sati Sargsyan, international program manager working with Rainbow Kick-off. ’’Discrimination is strong in the labor market, and the community needs flexible funding mechanisms to develop alternative and sustainable solutions for income-generation.”

The boarding school itself has been under threat and persecution for its work, and had to close down for some time. It was created in 2008 by trans women and for trans women as a response to discrimination faced by trans communities, and currently houses over 50 trans women between the ages of 40 and 70. 

The school itself has been under a lot of pressure and persecution, and had to close down briefly a few years ago. 

To support similar projects within Rainbow Kick-off, Swish to: 123 900 40 86

PROJECT: Trans Educational Convening
ORGANIZATION: Rwanda Gender Pride

Despite the fact that homosexuality is decriminalized in Rwanda, there are few – if any – legal protections in the country for LGBTQI communities. Especially vulnerable are trans communities in Rwanda, where Rwanda Gender Pride, an emerging trans-feminist and gender-non-conforming group, wants to change that. 

At the end of March the group organized a 3-day trans educational convening, supported by Rainbow Kick-off. The first of its kind in Rwanda, trans activists and community members came together to strategize about a future with stronger rights and stronger trans communities. 

On the first day of the meeting, once the nature of the meeting became apparent to the hotel where the convening was being held, the group was denied the meeting space.

’’We tried to negotiate and even inquire what harm or wrongdoing we had caused, but all this fell on deaf ears and the owner of the hotel insisted that we will have to find another venue for the next two days,’’ said Carter Honoree, the head of Rwanda Gender Pride. ’’ He (the owner) refused to hear us out and continued (saying)’your kind of group, I can’t have it here. We won’t speak to anybody so go to court if you want and if you think you have a voice in this country.” 

The group secured another venue for the second day, but the owners at the second venue also told them to leave after only a few hours. When a friendly NGO provided them with space to finish the meeting, they received a call from local administration to immediately shut down the activities. Police was called and came to make sure the group had exited the premises. 

While all participants of the convening are safe, the Rwanda Gender Pride group and participants are deeply shaken. 

“We have worked tirelessly to make this day finally arrive however we couldn’t have it in peace,’’ Honorée said. ’’We carried out most of the discussion. But this just shows how much discrimination is done against trans people in Rwanda and more there is to be done.’’ 

RFSL has been following the developments and supporting Rwanda Gender Pride in the process. The group is planning a security training with support from Rainbow Kick-off.  

To support similar projects within Rainbow Kick-off, Swish to: 123 900 40 86