Johannesburg’s queer community celebrate Pride amid terror threat

Johannesburg has staged its annual Pride celebrations amid the threat of a serious terror attack in the region.

Earlier this week the American Embassy issued a warning to their staff and US citizens in the region about a possible terror attack in Sandton – the financial centre of the city. Canada and the United Kingdom also issued similar warnings following the US announcement.

After careful consideration, the organisers of the city’s Pride celebrations said their 33rd outing of the march would go ahead.

“From a South African perspective, we believe that all lives matter. Johannesburg Pride has not been directly threatened, nor have we received any communication from outside parties other than what the media assumed via the US Embassy’s website.”

“We have consulted with the various entities, and at this point: postponing Pride is hard, proceeding with Pride is hard, and deciding whether or not to attend is a hard decision,” Pride organisers said.

“We urge you to remember the essence of why Pride began. It was, for all intents and purposes, a protest action. We, as a continent, have a very marginalised LGBTQ+ community, we live under constant attack, and there is a constant fear of being arrested in 33 of 54 countries.

“Despite our constitutional rights, we are marginalised in South Africa. The threat has provided an opportunity for homophobes to emerge, inciting a series of homophobic comments directed at Pride and our LGBTQ+ community and the reason for our existence.

“We must remember that it is critical for us to occupy the space we intend to occupy on 29 October, that we take to the streets, and that we assert our visibility. We must establish our presence and demonstrate our strength as a united community.”

Organisers vowed that they would never succumb to the threat of terrorism.

“We will not be subjected to any threats based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is precisely why we take to the streets and march.”

Police said they would be attending all events being held in the area over the weekend and urged residents to be vigilant about reporting suspicious behaviour or activities. Police said they were monitoring over 200 events scheduled to take place over the weekend.

At 2pm local time (8pm WA time) the parade got under way and people filled the streets dressed in bright clothes, singing and dancing.

OIP Staff

Image: 2019 Johannesburg Pride celebrations (Shutterstock) 

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