Hundreds of activists are expected to descend on the streets of White City Jabavu, Soweto, on national Heritage Day, Saturday 24 September, for the seventh annual Gay and Lesbian Soweto Pride March.

The march is organised by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and aims to provide LGBTI people with an opportunity to voice their frustrations against homophobia and discrimination experienced by gays and lesbians and other minority groups in South Africa, especially those who live in the townships.

Participants will gather at the corner of Elias Motsoaledi and Mphuthi Streets at 10 am, from where the march will proceed to the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, where a political and cultural programme will take place until 6pm.

The theme for 2011 is “African Pride – queer love is a Human Right”.

“The theme for 2011 was arrived at in the context in which minority groups such as lesbians and gays’ human rights are trodden on in South Africa today,” said Sedica Davids, interim director at FEW.

“Women have acquired so many rights legally yet some women can’t walk safely in the streets of their own townships. The struggle is not only to take back the streets, we have to encourage our mothers, fathers, sisters, neighbours and cousins to join us in this struggle as women’s’ rights are human rights and lesbian’s rights are women’s rights.”

Davids said that Soweto Pride is also attempting to address the problem of what is termed “corrective rape”, in which lesbian women are raped in order to “convert” them to heterosexuality.

“It must be remembered that Africa is for Africans even though being ‘different’ is considered by many to be un-African,” added the organisers.

“This has influenced the senseless intolerance towards minority groups that include gays, intersex persons, transgender persons and lesbians. Members of all represented organisations and individuals who will be present seek to demystify this notion. This harassment only increases our resolve to defend our fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms.”

Marshalls will be visible at the corner of Elias Motsoaledi and Mphuthi Street from 8.15am to direct the march. For more information about Soweto Pride, contact: Phindi Malaza on 011 333 0345/0458 or at

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