Pride events are developing in Africa

Last August 2013 Ugandan Pride took place for the second time. Five days of debate, party, transgender night and a movie-festival were concluded with a beachparty and a pride march. Frank van Dalen, chair of Pride United and member of Interpride Human Rights Committee, attended the pride in Uganda and witnessed up tot 200 brave LGBTI-persons taking a public stand for their rights.

Since then a lot has happened. The Public Order Management Bill got adopted, preventing public gatherings that are ‘against the order of Ugandan’ from happening. The anti-gay bill signed by president Museveni criminalizes LGBTI’s even further. Whether a third pride event in Uganda will take place in 2014 is debated now within the Ugandan LGBTI-community.

“If so, then for sure I will go again, even though situation might be more risky then ever”, Frank van Dalen says. But more support is building. At his stay in Uganda Frank met with local LGBTI’s who have been outcasted from their families leaving them without education and real poverty. These people are now building small enterprises where they make handcrafted products. This will give them a possibility to create some income and empower the LGBTI’s in their local communities. “We are now looking into ways of having their products being sold at big pride events around the world. A higher prize and a higher volume of sold products will benefit these LGBTI’s under pressure”, van Dalen says. “Key is now to find one or two prides who are willing to buy their products not in China but in Uganda and to pioneer in order to kick-start this project.”

But Uganda is not the only African country where pride events in hostile environments take place. With the support of the InterPride solidarity committee, Frank van Dalen attended the Pan African Ilga Conference in Kenya last March and hosted a round table to talk about pride events in Africa. For the first time in 2013 a pride-event took place in Zimbabwe, the country ruled by the homophobic president Robert Mugabe. In three more African countries local LGBTI-organizations are developing new initiatives as well.

The pride movement in South Africa is also strongly developing. New pride events in townships are organized, because the existing pride events are considered not to be inclusive enough. This development marks a growing consciousness amongst black LGBTI’s.

InterPride human rights committee chaired by Cain Williamson has decided to work closely together with the Interpride solidarity committee, co-chaired by Alan Reiff, to support the pride events slowly developing in Africa. “Region 16 has basically been an untouched area for InterPride considering the extremely hostile environment Africa is for LGBTI’s. But with African LGBTI’s standing up and starting to organize their own pride events, InterPride should do all within her capabilities to give support”, Williamson says.