Joburg Pride has issued an official response to the incident that took place during Saturday’s parade when activists held a “disruption” of the event.
The feminist activist group 1 in 9 has insisted that it had the right to ambush the event over what it claims is the “depoliticised” nature of Pride and to highlight the attacks on LGBT people in the country.
The organisation has also accused Joburg Pride organisers of racism, attacking its members and threatening to drive over them. It has released a video (see below) which it says affirms these claims.
Joburg Pride has, in turn, claimed that the video is edited to reflect a particular and inaccurate view of the events that unfolded.
Below is Pride’s official statement about the incident, issued on Monday, in its entirety:
Joburg Pride response to One in Nine protest
On Saturday the 6th October, the 22nd annual Joburg Pride Event took place from Zoo Lake Sports Club, and around the streets of Rosebank.
The day was an overall success with over 20 000 people joining the parade and the celebrations that took place back at Zoo Lake Sports Club.
The day was marred by an incident that took place on the route, which this statement will address, as to the factual events that occurred.
A member of the Joburg Pride board completed a route sweep prior to the start of the parade to ensure the appropriate road closures, marshals and traffic control was in place, as per the Gathering’s Act (Section 205).
As the parade was heading down Jan Smuts Ave, a group of protestors ran out into the road and formed a human blockade across the Pride route. This consisted of two banners, dummies and the actual protestors who laid down on the road. This caused a major safety hazard. At this point, a Joburg Pride board member attempted to engage with protestors to find out what organisation they were from, what they were protesting about, and why they were attempting to stop the Parade. One of the banners said “NO CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION”.
It was unclear as to whether this was an anti-gay protest by a homophobic group, which raised safety concerns even more, as the front of the parade was now reaching the intersection. It needs to be noted that this organisation, who we now know to be One in Nine Campaign, had not attempted any communication with Joburg Pride prior to the parade. This organisation subsequently admitted that they made no attempt to contact Joburg Pride and planned for the first point of contact to be on the road.
The situation escalated quickly, and some hostile interactions did take place, between members of the LGBTI community in the Parade and protestors. Joburg Pride organisers and marshals did try to move protestors to the side of the road, so that the parade could continue safely, but were met with further resistance.
The protestors regrouped, and continued similar action along the route. When it became clear that the group were LGBTI activists, they were invited several times to join the Parade, which they declined. They continued to disrupt the route and the parade elevating safety concerns. Those participating in the parade on foot continued around the protest, with the floats being held up. Attempts were made by the lead car to keep the parade going, by driving slowly forward, whilst hooting. Protestors flung themselves and dummies onto the car, trying to provoke and incite a reaction. At NO TIME were any racial comments made by the Joburg Pride board member in the lead car, although protestors continued to scream racial verbal abuse.
Chair of Joburg Pride, Tanya Harford, made her way from the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at Zoo Lake Sports Club, to the intersection of Jan Smuts Ave and Bolton Ave, to assess the situation. At this juncture, the back of the Parade had now passed through this intersection, and the roads were effectively open to normal traffic. The protestors continued to lie in the road.
After further interaction with one of the protestors by Harford, the protestor reiterated that they would continue to protest, not understanding that the roads were now open, and Joburg Pride could not ensure their safety. Harford proceeded to the actual picket line to communicate that they needed to move from the road once again. The situation was incredibly tense and volatile, with Harford surrounded by an agitated group of protestors.
A scuffle ensued, and Harford was pushed to the ground, falling on top of a protestor. While on the ground and whilst getting up, she was physically assaulted repeatedly by several people.
At this point, SAPS managed to convince protestors to move off the road, while Harford returned to the venue to continue with logistics of the day.
Joburg Pride board members have seen video footage of an incident of a motorbike marshal head-butting one of the protestors. The Joburg Pride Board does not condone this sort of behaviour. We apologise unreservedly for this act, and it is our understanding that a charge of assault has been opened at Rosebank Police Station by the aggrieved party.
The Joburg Pride Board regrets that this entire incident was escalated into a racial furore on the day and subsequently in social media, attempting to divide the LGBTI community across racial lines. We reiterate that racial slurs did not originate from any Pride Board member but between parade participants and protestors.
Joburg Pride remains committed to promoting a non-sexist, non-violent, non-racial and non-discriminatory community.
In conclusion, Joburg Pride is open to communication from all sectors of the LGBTI community. Joburg Pride is a free event to attend. We give all NGO’s free space to promote their cause within the community village. We invite participation from all groups or individuals in the planning stages of Pride, and we emphasise that Pride is a platform to highlight community issues by other LGBTI organisations.
As Joburg Pride we fully support the One in Nine campaign and all other LGBTI NGO’s.
Released on behalf of the Board of Joburg Pride: Tanya Harford Fulvio de Stefanis Samantha Durkin Thami Kotlolo Kerry McMaster Jenni Green Josef Talotta
Below is the video produced and issued by the 1 in 9 campaign. Joburg Pride has claimed that the video is edited to reflect a selective view of the events that unfolded.