By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | JOHANNESBURG (IDN) — With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, over three thousand people turned out for a joyous gay Pride Parade in Johannesburg despite a warning by the U.S. embassy of a potential terrorist attack.
LGBTQ activists cheered the resumption of the event after two years, dismissing the U.S. advisory.
Organizers said the march would not be derailed by any form of threat.
The event marks its 33rd year raising awareness of queer issues as well as celebrating the continent’s queer community. Johannesburg PRIDE was founded in 1990 by queer anti-apartheid activists Simon Nkoli and Beverley Ditsie through the Gay and Lesbian Community of the Witwatersrand (GLOW).
“Whether you call it a ‘jamboree’, whether you call it a ‘party with a purpose’, at the end of the day, there’s still a lot of relevance in what we’re doing,” said Kay Ally, chair of Johannesburg PRIDE.
Earlier in the week, the organization said the threat made it more important to have the march.
South African government leaders claimed that the U.S. had not shared enough information to give credibility to the alleged threat while Police Minister Bheke Cele said all safety measures had been taken to ensure safety in the area.
Still, some queer activists doubted they were safe from homophobic attacks. “For the average child growing up here, South Africa is not safe at all,” said Dr. Lethuxolo Shange. “Queer people are killed every single day, one after the other. We still have a very long way to go – the law is there but the practice and the mindset in our community hasn’t changed.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters, in a press release, echoed the doctor’s comments: “The queer community has endured decades of oppression, much more so Black people who identify as queer. They have had to endure oppression based on their colour and sexual orientation.
“Unfortunately, the Black man is not yet free, neither is the gay man. Black queer people of this country are more oppressed now than ever because of petty vultures with low self-esteem who seek to prey on those they deem weak and vulnerable.”
“We are always fighting for visibility, and we are always in danger, so hearing of the terrorist attack didn’t even bother me,” said LGBTQ+ activist Anold Mulaisho. “Either way, if I die my family already rejected me anyway so no one is gonna get to miss me.”
Today, 33 out of 54 African countries still criminalize “homosexual acts”. [IDN-InDepthNews — 31 October 2022]
Photo: Members of the LGBTQI community attend the annual Gay Pride march in Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 October 2022. Source: Daily Maverick, South Africa.
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