Melanie Nathan Creates Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa

Written by scott on February 15th, 2014

Indieagogo campaigmI have established a Rescue Fund to help persecuted LGBT Africans escape from their countries, as well as supporting safe housing, and quests for asylum.

I was born in South Africa and became an attorney during the Apartheid era, before immigrating to the U.S.A. in 1985. I am a former Marin County Human Rights Commissioner, and founder of Private Courts, a conflict resolution and global human rights advocacy firm based in the Bay Area. All my advocacy work has been pro bono. I blog at, and use my writing as a platform for my advocacy work.

I learned at a young age about the Holocaust and scapegoating and the importance of Jews in the Diaspora to help others escape persecution. As a member of the global LGBT community I could not sit back and ignore the plea for help generated by my writing, from Africa’s LGBTI community.The letters I have received will break your heart and they are numerous.
While the US has made strides in equality for LGBT people, African countries such as Uganda and Nigeria have passed Draconian legislation, that has served to increase persecution against gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Currently LGBTI people are being arrested, taunted, paraded in front of press, outed in tabloids, seized and assaulted in incidence of mob justice, and all this after being rejected, ostracized by family, friends and Government alike. They are terified and have nowhere to turn, as President Museveni is poised to sign a Bill that will put many of them in prison for life. This is URGENT~

Most of the persecuted are from Uganda where the President is about to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which mandates Life in prison for gays.

The stories of rejection by parents, family and friends, the arrests under these laws and resulting assaults, insidious mob justice are horrendous. Many fear for their lives:

By contributing to this Rescue Fund you will help me to save more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from Africa escape terrifying persecution. For some this is a matter of life or death. I have been doing this since 2010 and can no longer do it alone. The need is far too great.
What We Need

We need to raise as much as possible – there will be many more to help. The more we raise, the more we can do. This is how the funds will be used:

I have a list of 20 people who have been verified and need to escape from Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia and the list is growing. 100% of the funds raised will be used for fees for passports, visas, transport out of the countries, and safe shelter and food, pending escape:

Minimum per person is $3,250 approximately:
$100 pays for passport
$200 pays for a visa
$350 provides food and shelter for a month in Africa pending escape
$1,100 – $1,600 buys an airticket – or
Place of settlement – $1,000 travel cash
Legal fees – pro bono/ accommodation donated.

At this time there is not a single USA organization addressing this problem of direct funding to help victims escape. Please write to me if you have specific questions you would like answered.

I will love to help more than 6 people. I have kept my goal low -$19,500. Though I would love to help all 20 for approximately $65,000.

Unfortunately without airtickets and visas, some people may have to escape across borders and in such event $800 each will cover immediate costs. This is not ideal as those people are usually housed in African refugee camps and it takes over 18 months for the UN to resettle them. Often their nightmare continues….


1) Ultimate Savior: Just last week, Edie Windsor, the Plaintiff from the U.S.A. Supreme Court case which ruled The Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and who was named Times Magazine #3 Person of The Year, signed a South African Gay Flag for me and agreed that I could use it to raise money for LGBT asylees. I will award this beautiful flag to the person who donates the most money over $3,250. The Gay Flag of South Africa has received National status. One day Edie’s autograph will be worth a lot of money.

Picture: Autographed Flag with Edie Windsor pictured with Filmmaker of GAY USA the Movie, Kristina Lapinski.
2) Airticket Provider: I will also provide an Elie Wiesel Silver Coin, in a descriptive 4 page sleeve pack, newly released by Mint of Norway, and in limited edition to be purchased from the South African Gold Coin Exchange, to the first 10 people who provide more than $500 donation. (pic below)

3) Passport Provider: I will provide Nelson Mandela Coins (gold colored made from metal BU) depicting the image of Nelson Mandela with the words “A Long Walk to Freedom”, donated by The South African Gold Coin Exchange to the first 20 people who donate $100 or more. (pic below)

I do not have much to offer in return for contributions, other than the satisfaction of knowing that you may have contributed to the saving of a life.

See the indiegogo page here.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mark Satterthwaite says:

    Thank you for doing this important work. I am shocked by the lack of concern about this issue. Don’t have much money but can you use me in other ways?

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