Cape Town Pride celebrates equality in South Africa, condemns Ghana’s new anti-gay law

“I am a proudly gay man,” city councillor Rob Quintas tells crowd

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Photo of gay pride celebration

Jessica Seasons marches across a rainbow flag in Cape Town’s annual pride parade on Saturday. Photos: Sandiso Phaliso

Rainbow coloured costumes brightened Cape Town as thousands of people marched through the city for the gay pride parade on Saturday.

The annual parade, which celebrates LGBTQI+ rights, has been held in Cape Town since 1993. The first pride parade was held in Johannesburg in 1990.

The parade was led by Mr and Miss Cape Town Pride followed by bikers and roller skaters. It started at Alfred Street in Green Point and moved to Main Road before heading to the Green Point athletics stadium where a concert was held. On Somerset Road a ribbon was cut to officially start the parade.

At the stadium, attendees who had to pay to enter, listened to speeches and watched dance and music performances from various artists. There were food stalls, bars and other entertainment.

Homosexuality was illegal in South Africa under apartheid. Post-apartheid, activists led by the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE) used the equality clause in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution to compel the state to repeal the laws that discriminated against gay and lesbian people. This culminated with the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2006.

But homosexuality remains illegal in dozens of African countries, some of which have recently tightened their laws. Ghana’s parliament on Wednesday passed the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Act which criminalises same-sex relationships and those who support LGBTQI+ rights.

Zackie Achmat, who led the NCGLE in the 1990s, said it is not only in Africa that we are facing discrimination, but worldwide.

“We are standing with the people of Uganda, Ghana and the Palestinian people. Our job is to make sure we build a society that is better and free of discrimination,” he said.

Several thousand people took part in the annual gay pride event in Cape Town, held in Green Point on 2 March .

Rob Quintas, the mayco member for transport, told the crowd: “I am a proudly gay man.” The crowd cheered.

“Cape Town continues to strive to be a city of hope for our diverse community. The City proudly stands with our LGBTQI+ community,” he said.

Mary Smith, a pensioner, told GroundUp she has been attending the parade for 19 years and it was “the best occasion, a day filled with fun, joy and happiness”.

“Our rights as queer people are enriched in our constitution,” said Smith.

Lola Fine, another attendee, said: “We will not be subjected to threats because of our sexual orientation. We refuse to be bullied.”


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