Information about Gay Pride in Africa
African countries have some of the harshest anti-gay laws on the books, yet LGBT communities still find ways to flourish and celebrate who they are. Many nations have decriminalized homosexuality in recent years, although only a few have legalized same-sex marriage or implemented protections against discrimination. Some, like Uganda, have made great strides in the Gay Pride movement only to have their progress ripped away.
Uganda: From 2012 to 2015, Uganda held four successful gay pride festivals with hundreds of gay and lesbian attendees along with their families. Fashion shows, documentaries, and traditional cultural performances allowed the larger community to connect with their LGBT neighbors. After being raided in 2016 and officially cancelled by government officials, organizers were forced to hold smaller, secret celebrations. While the future of Pride Uganda is uncertain, activists have begun fundraising to open the country’s first LGBT community center, which the minister of ethics and integrity condemned as a “criminal act.”
Refugee Flag Kenya: At a refugee camp sheltering LGBTI Ugandans and other asylum-seekers in Nairobi, plans are well underway for the camp’s second gay pride event after successfully hosting their first last summer. Kakuma Refugee Camp has existed since 1992 and is one of the largest in the world, but cultural and religious homophobia and simple misinformation is rampant. Refugee Flag Kenya was founded to help promote visibility and inclusion of the gay and lesbian community within the larger camp. Festivities include the obligatory Pride Parade as well as a soccer match and trans model fashion show.
Eswatini: Last year, the continent’s last absolute monarchy held its first-ever gay pride parade in the city of Mbabane. Swaziland, or eSwatini as it was renamed last April, not only has colonial-era sodomy laws still in place, but its ruler has called homosexuality sick and Satanic. However, the parade was coordinated with the government’s approval and went ahead as planned with only a few incidents of violence. Swazi musicians and artists added to the festivities, while marchers sported rainbow flags and T-shirts printed with the message “God is love.”
Johannesburg: JoburgPride is the longest-running LGBT event in South Africa, inaugurated even before the end of Apartheid in October of 1990. The event shares close ties with black empowerment movement as October is also Pride of Africa month, a celebration of black history throughout the country. Each year, a Pride Village is set up at Melrose Avenue and a Mardi Gras style festival is hosted by popular entertainers. Live music begins before and continues after the parade; info sessions on health, surrogacy and adoption, civil unions, and other LGBTI issues take place throughout the day.