OUT’s testing gazebos at last week’s Soweto Pride

OUT, the Pretoria-based LGBTI health and well-being NGO, is up in arms over what it says is an exorbitant fee being charged by Joburg Pride for it to offer free HIV testing at the event.

According to OUT, it was told by Joburg Pride that it would have to pay R 5,000 for a 27 square meter space at Saturday’s Pride day at Zoo Lake Sports Club.

This space would allow it to erect three small gazebos for HIV screening and counselling.

“It is not acceptable for Pride, which should be a community event, to be charging non-profit organisations this kind of money for us to provide these services,” said OUT’s Director Dawie Nel.

“We had to pay an exorbitant amount last year for this, but we are not prepared to do it again this year,” he said.

Joburg Pride Chair Tanya Harford told Mambaonline that all community organisations are given a free stall in a pre-defined community village space at Pride, but that additional space had to be paid for.

“Our view is that we as Pride are also a not-for-profit group and that we have to somehow fund Pride – so we ask for a small fee from everybody for this extra space. This is a contribution to the considerable running costs of Pride – fencing, toilets, security, water, electricity and so on,” said Harford.

“We believe that R 5000 is a nominal fee. Our understanding is that OUT is an agency that receives international funding to do this work and it is part of their funders’ score card that they do testing at these community events. We don’t get international funding to run Pride,” she commented.

“This should be a win-win situation,” Harford added, “by OUT paying this contribution we would be able to pay towards our running costs to bring over 15,000 people to the event and OUT would in turn get to fulfil its mandate of testing people.”

Nel responded that “I have nothing against the principle of charging commercial interests money to take part at Pride, but I still don’t see why community organisations are being charged.”

Joburg Pride takes place tomorrow, October 1st at Zoo Lake Sports Club, Parkview, Johannesburg. Gates open from 8am and the parade will start at 11am. For more information, click here.

What do you think? Is Joburg Pride justified in charging organisations such as OUT for space to provide HIV testing in order to cover its costs?

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