Following recent reports of an outbreak of xenophobic violence, and in line with its 2010 theme “We’re All African”, Joburg Pride has condemned prejudice, discrimination and violence against foreign nationals living in South Africa.

“Homophobia and xenophobia can be considered two sides of the same coin – both of them are fear-based prejudices and they violate the values in which our Constitution is rooted: respect for human dignity, tolerance and acceptance of diversity. We call upon all South Africans to end the hate and victimisation of LGBT people and foreigners in South Africa,” said Joburg Pride Co-Chair and Community Portfolio-holder Zak Mbhele.

He added: “The fact that these kinds of attacks seem to happen mainly in township communities and informal settlements indicates that the need for social justice is a central issue that must be addressed in order to eliminate the conditions of marginalisation and vulnerability that give rise to scapegoating and resentment of the ‘other’ in these contexts.”

In addition to xenophobic prejudice against foreigners, Joburg Pride noted the plight of LGBT people within refugee and migrant communities who often face the threat of double stigma and discrimination: that of being a foreigner and that of being an LGBT individual.

Many LGBT foreigners from other African countries are not able to be out and open about their sexuality within their communities because of strong cultural and religious conservatism, said the organisation. Due to their dependence on other foreign nationals for material support and job opportunities, these LGBT men and women are often forced to live a lie in order to survive.

“The Joburg Pride 2010 theme is most opportune to enable us to speak out against homophobia and xenophobia. As it states, ‘We’re All African’ and no one in this country and on this continent should have their rights violated, their freedoms and equality constrained or their safety and security threatened simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or from another country. Human rights and ubuntu/botho are universal and indivisible,” concluded Mbhele.

Joburg Pride is the oldest and largest LGBT Pride event on the African continent, drawing a crowd of around 15,000 people. The 21st Joburg Pride Day and Parade will take place on Saturday 2nd October at Zoo Lake Sports Club.

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