Minister Gigaba holds his award
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has become not only the first government minister to attend an LGBTI Pride in South Africa, but also went on to marry three same-sex couples at the event.
On Saturday, Gigaba attended the fourth annual Pretoria Pride to receive the inaugural Pretoria LGBTI Pride/GaySA Radio Human Rights Award.
The minister was honoured for his recent decision to bar American gay-hate pastor Steven Anderson and his followers from South Africa.
Gigaba was presented with the award by Pretoria Pride’s Bruce Walker and GaySA Radio’s Hendrik Baird on stage, in front of thousands of LGBTI people and their friends and families.
Introducing Gigaba to the crowd, Baird commented that the minister’s actions had shown that “our government is in support of LGBTI rights”.
Gigaba said that he was “happy and proud to be here this afternoon”, adding that “not only is it the first time that a minister attends a Pride parade but it’s also the first time for me [to attend one]”.
Stating that he was “humbled” by the honour, he accepted the award on behalf of those Home Affairs staff members who accept diversity and act under the values of the Constitution.
“I also accept this award on behalf of you,” he said to the audience. “It is also an award that you are giving to yourselves; for not being fearful of coming to us and engaging us constructively when the spectre of this person faced our country.
“It would have been an embarrassing moment if we had allowed Steven Anderson on the soil of South Africa. He would have negated everything that we are trying to build as a nation,” said the minister.
Gigaba acknowledged that, “our department is a long way from where we want it to be and what we want it to be – but we’ve made a good start.” He explained that Home Affairs has been meeting with LGBTI organisations to discuss programmes to raise awareness and sensitivity in the department.
He revealed that more than 300 officials are currently receiving sensitivity training, “so that they become better able to manage diversity and are able to provide the services of our department in a manner that is conducive to respecting the constitutional principles of our country”.
Gigaba also addressed the shocking statistic, as reported by Mambaonline, that only 28% of Home Affairs offices offer same-sex marriage services. (The Civil Union Act allows marriage officers to opt out of officiating these.)
Malusi Gigaba married three same-sex couples at Pretoria Pride
“Hopefully, one day, we will no longer need to have certain offices or certain officials designated to conduct same-sex marriage. Hopefully, one day, all our offices and all our marriage officers will easily conduct same-sex marriages according to the Civil Union Act. I am convinced we will make progress!” said Gigagba.
Three couples were then brought on stage to be married by drag personality Rebecca Thunderkant, as the beaming minister watched on.
After the couples said “I do”, Gigagba proclaimed, “I now officially pronounce that you are married,” to the cheers and applause of the crowd.
According to Walker, this year’s Pretoria Pride was one of the largest and most diverse editions of the event. He estimated that more than 6,000 people took part in the march through the streets of Centurion.