OUT Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Well-being regrets to announce that after 24 years, our pioneering free sexual health clinic for men who have sex with men (MSM) in Pretoria will close its doors.
It was recently confirmed that funding for the clinic was not renewed, and thus all services will be discontinued at the end of September 2021.
Opened in 1997, the OUT clinic has been situated at three Pretoria locations over the years. It was also known as the Prism Lifestyle Center, then the TEN81 Clinic and most recently Engage Men’s Health Pretoria.
Offering vital HIV and related services, the OUT clinic became an institution in the City and across the Metro with its welcoming facilities and mobile outreach teams.
The site has also been a longstanding safe space for the MSM and LGBT communities and housed additional free services such as support groups, psychosocial counselling and an LGBT+ legal clinic.
“Over more than two decades, OUT has grown our expertise, developed meaningful relationships with clients, partners and funders and proudly built a historic legacy in serving the LGBT+ community in Tshwane,” says Dawie Nel, Director of OUT.
The clinic’s closure does not mean that OUT as an organisation is shutting down. We will continue to operate our Engage Men’s Health clinics in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City as well as our national human rights and paralegal programmes.
From 1 October 2021, the Aurum Institute’s Pop Inn project will commence providing HIV-related services to MSM in Pretoria. To avoid any disruption of services, OUT client files will be transferred to the Aurum Institute. Pretoria clients may also choose to transfer to our Engage Men’s Health clinic in Melville, Johannesburg.
In a letter of support, Juan A Nel, Research Professor at the Department of Psychology, UNISA, cited a long history of collaboration with OUT and said that the closure of the clinic “is too ghastly to contemplate, both for me, personally, but also my institution.”
Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, described OUT as “a stalwart of the LGBT community in South Africa, and specifically, Tshwane” and commented that it was “extremely sad if OUT’s longstanding presence and various efforts to build up a site for sustainable service to serve Tshwane’s LGBT community’s equality and health would come to an end solely due to the unavailability of funding.”
Pierre Brouard, Deputy Director of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender at the University of Pretoria, also praised “the deep trust OUT has established with the MSM community of Tshwane” and said that it “seems to be counter-intuitive for an existing and successful service to close down.”
OUT aims to resume our free sexual health services in Tshwane in the near future.
“We feel a deep responsibility to sustain this historic legacy. OUT was founded by and has always been run by members of the LGBT+/MSM communities and we believe that should remain the case when it comes to sexual health services for these key groups,” says Nel.
We thus ask the LGBT+ and MSM communities and their allies to assist by donating funds, no matter how small, towards the reopening of the OUT clinic through the BackaBuddy website: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/keep-out-open.
OUT thanks the LGBT+ and MSM communities of Tshwane for their ongoing support throughout the years and regrets any inconvenience to our Pretoria clients due to the clinic’s closure.
Aurum Pop Inn can be contacted on 067 067 1863. OUT Pretoria clients who wish to transfer to our Engage Men’s Health clinic in Johannesburg can call or WhatsApp 082 607 1686.