This year's Durban Pride will take place Saturday, 29 June, at the Gugu Dlamini Park, celebrating legal equality for the South African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer + (LGBTQ+) community. The event will commemorate the lives lost to hate crimes, discrimination and stigma, expressing resistance to and outrage over violence against the community.
The Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the headline sponsor of Durban Pride for the second consecutive year, reaffirming its commitment to ‘Keep the promise to the LGBTQ+ community’.
2019 commemorates 25 years since South Africa’s first democratic elections and the journey to a progressive constitution that includes the Bill of Rights and the Equality Clause which guarantees protection against unfair discrimination based on race, gender, disability, religion and, importantly for the LGBTQ+ community, sexual orientation.
Hate crimes, discrimination continue
Same-sex marriage was legalised after a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2006, making South Africa the only African country with full legal equality for LGBTQ+ people. Despite progressive laws, hate crimes and discrimination persist. Earlier this year the murder of a gay man was condoned by the Pinetown High Court citing the “gay panic” defence
. The judge in the case ruled that the accused’s violent outburst was justified as the victim had allegedly made a physical advance towards him. This form of legal defense has been outlawed in the United States but persists in South Africa.
“We recently celebrated the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations in Botswana. This battle is part of the larger war that still rages, as 29 African nations consider same-sex relations as unlawful. These laws make it harder to combat HIV because people are afraid to ask for help for fear of prosecution. That is why AHF is supporting Durban Pride. HIV continues to disproportionately affect trans people and men who have sex with men and AHF wants to make sure that members of the LGBTQ+ community have access to stigma-free HIV prevention, treatment and care,” says Hilary Thulare, AHF South Africa, country programme director.
No historic reflection on LGBTQ+ rights in South Africa would be complete without acknowledging the sacrifices made by people like Simon Tseko Nkoli
and Prudence Nobantu Mabele
. At the Delmas Treason Trial Nkoli was one of the first anti-apartheid activists to publicly come out gay. In the 1990s Nkoli advocated to destigmatise HIV and was a founding member of GLOW (Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand). His death from Aids in 1998 sparked the establishment of the Treatment Action Campaign. Prudence Mabele was one of the first South African women to publicly disclose her HIV status. She went on to found the Positive Women’s Network and was a champion for LGBTQ+ rights and against gender-based violence until her death in 2017.
“AHF keeps the promise to the LGBTQ+ community to ensure stigma-free healthcare for all. We stand with the LGBTQ+ community against homophobia and discrimination. Phrases used in the media like ‘sexual preference’ perpetuate the mistaken belief that being gay is a choice. It isn’t. People with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations must be welcomed in our healthcare facilities and treated with dignity. AHF commits to doing just that,” says Larissa Klazinga, regional policy and advocacy manager, AHF South Africa.
For more info on this year's Durban Pride, click here