In a show of support, a host of local government officials took part in last week’s fourth annual Limpopo LGBTI Pride.
Friday’s march through the streets of Polokwane was meant to have taken place in May, but was postponed to ensure the safety of participants and to rally more support from civil society and government.
Organisers’ efforts seem to have paid off, with the mayors of Polokwane and the Capricorn District Municipality, as well as various councillors and members of the police service, joining activists, rights groups and members of the LGBTI community in the procession.
“It was the first of its kind in South Africa,” said organiser Cindy Molefe, from the Limpopo LGBTI Proudly Out group. “We had so many stakeholders taking part, highlighting the collaboration that is happening in the province.”
The marchers stopped at the office of the provincial premier, where they were received by the MEC for Safety, Security and Liaison, Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana. She addressed participants and expressed her commitment to tackling hate crimes against LGBTI people.
The MEC also attended the formal programme at SABC Park following the march and delivered the keynote address.
“Everyone was saying no to violence against the LGBTI,” said Molefe. “We believe that it will have a huge impact. It was not just a gay parade but included so many members of the community.”
A second day of Pride events was held on Saturday at Flora Park Dam which included stalls, a picnic and entertainment.
In March, a 30-something mother of three was raped at gunpoint in the province, just metres from her home and waiting children, by a group of men who said they wanted to show her that her “lifestyle is wrong.”
Last year’s Limpopo Pride was marred by the rape of a lesbian teenager who had participated in the march and was trying to make her way home.
Molefe confirmed that there were no reports of incidents at this weekend’s events.
Below is a gallery of Friday’s Limpopo Pride march, courtesy of photographer Cobus Benade.