A Pride parade in Swakopmund has celebrated the diversity of the LGBTIQ community and called for its rights to be respected in Namibia.
Holding a huge rainbow flag, around 150 loud and proud activists and members of the community took to the coastal city’s streets on Saturday chanting the slogan “We are one!” as motorists hooted in support.
Led by a truck covered in colourful balloons, and also waving the transgender Pride flag, the participants marched along Sam Nuujoma Avenue towards the Swakopmund Amphitheatre.
There, they listened to speeches, were offered HIV testing and related services, and were treated to performances and entertainment by a host of LGBTIQ artists.
The Pride was also an opportunity to commemorate international Human Rights Day, which was marked on Sunday around the world, as well as the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign.
Saturday’s event, the second Pride parade to be held in the city after the inaugural 2016 outing, was organised by Out-Right Namibia (ORN), along with other human rights groups.
It was also the second Pride march in Namibia this year, following the one held in the capital Windhoek in July.
Both parades were part of ORN’s ongoing #WeAreOne campaign, which aims “to highlight the visible presence and inequality of LGBTIQ+ folks in Namibia,” explained the organisation’s director, Friedel Dausab.
“This is us just celebrating who we are and telling the Namibian nation that yes, we are here, and are part of this country’s citizens,” added ORN’s Gina Tibinyane. “So yeah, we’re here!”
In addition to the parade, Swakopmund Pride 2017 also included a panel discussion on the Friday about transgender issues, titled “I am not defined by my body”, and an LGBTIQ church service on Sunday
Consensual “sodomy” is illegal in Namibia and could be used to prosecute gay men, although this is not believed to have happened since the country’s independence in 1990. Same-sex relationships in Namibia, including those legalised in other countries, are not recognised.
A 2016 UN Human Rights Committee report urged Namibia to adopt legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in the Labour Act, and adopt hate crime legislation punishing homophobic and transphobic violence.