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POLICE OK GAY MARCH

By Sicelo Maziya | 2018-06-23

Royal Eswatini Police (REP) cleared and granted permission for the first Eswatini Gay Pride parade to be held in Mbabane next Saturday.

The event billed for the Prince of Wales stadium will be turned into a carnival with an assurance granted by the head of police operation that maximum security will be provided during the event.

LGBTQI activists and advocates across the country yesterday joined the Rock of Hope on their launch of the first Eswatini pride parade that is geared to celebrate diversity and free expression as part of the global Pride Week.

USA Ambassador to Swaziland Lisa Peterson who was also a guest during the launch of the event assured the LGBTQI of her participation.

Human Rights

She disclosed that the event had sparked international buzz. The USA ambassador said it was encouraging to see LGBTI advocates joining the international call to respect the human rights of all people.

Peterson said some people would argue that treating the LGBTI community with respect, fairness and dignity undermined the foundation of civilised society.

“But it is actually the lack of humanity, empathy, and freedom that rips at the fabric of society,” she said.

She further said countries flourished when they embraced and harnessed the entirety of their citizens’ differences and talents.  Peterson said categorising people as monoliths stifled creativity, innovation and ultimately, development.

She further said: “if people have to hide their true identities at work, at church, or elsewhere in the community, we all miss out on the full range of talents and contributions they could be making. We need to continuously inform and educate ourselves about issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity and respect our fellow citizens as we learn and grow together.”

Land

Many of the human rights activists at the event showed support to the first event to be held in the country.

Advocacy and communication officer and organiser of the first Eswatini Pride Melusi Simelane said the event was going to be a festival of celebrating diversity, a carnival of activities that includes entertainment as well as an opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to make money on the day.

Simelane said the event was simply a day of freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution of the land and the instruments of the United Nations where Eswatini is a signatory.

Simelane invited all peace loving emaSwati to attend the historical first Eswatini pride parade in the land.  He said there were many people who had different opinions about the community. Simelane said it is therefore a chance to witness and mingle at the first event in the land.  Civil Society and NGOs also voiced their full support to the event, Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) that has been working with the community for a long time pledged to allow their youth who had an understanding of the community to join and assist during the day.

FLAS has been hailed by Melusi during his speech at the launch or the event as an association that has not only helped with financial assistance but as well as material things that has been used to market the event.  FLAS said they were service providers and had a mandate to offer service without prejudice and they said they fully supported the initiative and would continue to offer services to the community.  The organisation disclosed that they would provide any assistance including nurses during the event to provide their inclusive health services.

COSPE another NGO that has been working with the community also showed their enthusiasm and further thanked the Rock of Hope for their giant steps towards claiming their rights as human beings.

Mbali Dludlu of COSPE said they could relate with the community because they knew they were people who carried a lot of scars that were not easy to heal. 

Dludlu said: “as a human rights activist it pains when we learn of deaths and when preliminary reports are that they are related to sexual orientation”.

She said all human rights were not supposed to be prejudiced.

“We are human beings, we should not be given labels when it comes to sexual orientation when the laws of the land are not giving labels.”

The event was also hailed as an event to turn fear into love, activists said once people understood the community they would coexist harmoniously.

Sex workers are in support of the first Eswatini pride

Voice of our Voices, an organisation of vulnerable women, expressed their happiness and full support of the first Eswatini Pride and further said they would also show their support to the event.

They said they had a fair share with societal stereotypes but they were also proud that police had come to an understanding on their vulnerability in the hands of police. 

They disclosed how police were able to attend to a case reported than judging them based on the facts presented and then never attend to their cases.  They said they were happy with the treatment they were now getting and they also said issues of legal reforms were needed to liberate and protect vulnerable people like sex workers in the land. 

They also thanked the health sector society that they provide health services to them and disclosed that they no longer get sick as the health sector is proactive in the intervention of their members to get medical assistance as soon as they feel sick.  Other sex workers interviewed on separate occasion outside the event said they were so elated to an extent they offered to charge reduced rates to interested persons on the day or throughout the week.

Frankie dlamini to mc event

Renowned fearless Frankie Dlamini will be the master of ceremonies at the First Eswatini Pride to be held at the Prince of Wales in Mbabane.

 Frankie known for being lively on stage, he commands the stage and he can dance.

Frankie an experienced MC is sure to turn the festival into a historical event with his commentary and openness.

Eswatini must protect the gender non- discrimination provisions - USA Ambassador

The USA ambassador said the gender non-discrimination provisions of the constitution should be protected for the rights of LGBTI people; however “we are disturbed by reports of abuse, discrimination, and ‘corrective rape’ against the LGBTI community.”

She added:  “these are worrying incidents that will continue to monitor.”   She said the embassy will continue to look to partner with civil society organisations as they address these issues.  Peterson said the annual pride parade, which began as Christopher Street Liberation Day, the location of the stonewall riots, is a hallmark of pride month. 

She said over the years, it had become a colourful, affirming, and safe gathering for gays and lesbians, and gender non-conforming individuals. She further disclosed that it was now celebrated in hundreds of cities each year, it is also a sober reminder of those who have lost their lives for daring to live authentically.

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