Cancelling Soweto Pride: A move to stamp out gathering and protest?

SOWETO PRIDE is a political project initiated by FEW in 2004 with the aim of creating and entrenching a political and social space for black lesbian women – together with the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community – to celebrate sexuality and humanity within the communities LGBTI people inhabit, and yet within which they are excluded and marginalized on a daily basis.

According to FEW ‘It is an act of courage and resistance, an act of open public display and a key moment in the year for increasing the visibility of all the identities of this community. SOWETO PRIDE is also, importantly, a social space where black lesbian women and the broader LGBTI community, women’s rights movement and other human rights organisations come together to connect and have fun in a safe space.’

Continuing, the organisation said ‘two weeks before the event was set to be held we were informed that it had been classified as a medium risk event due to “unruly behaviour” of some of the participants in the 2015 event held in Meadowlands. This categorization meant that the organisation had to find an additional R 146 000 in order to comply with the conditions or face Soweto Pride being shut down and the organisers arrested. This is a huge amount for a small organisation which runs primarily on donor funding that is restricted.’

This is a conversation between Advocate Mandisa Mbatha-Backett – Forum for the empowerment of women board member and Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar – Spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metro Police Department about the cancellation of Soweto Pride.

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