UPDATE: For the first time in its 12-year history, Soweto Pride has been postponed after the authorities threatened to shut it down. Read all the details here.
The 12th edition of Soweto Pride will take to the streets on Saturday 24 September in Meadowlands.
Organised by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), the event kicks off at 9am under the theme of: “Our lives mater: Safety, justice and freedom are our rights”.
It will be held in Meadowlands Phase 2 Park, on Heckroodt Street, opposite the court (the same venue as last year).
Meadowlands has special significance as it was the location of the brutal 2007 double murder of lesbians Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa in a horrific hate crime.
While the police claimed that the murders were committed by a suspected serial killer who took his life before being tried, FEW and the victims’ families believe that the killings remain unsolved.
“For us and the family we do not feel that justice was served. It was not clear how the police got to their conclusion and there are also suspicions that more than one person was involved in that matter,” explained Phindi Malaza from FEW.
She said that the organisation and the family were excluded from the investigation despite repeated requests. “We were promised that we and the family would be involved in the inquiry and that never happened. So we would like those kinds of things to change. This is same reason why people don’t report [hate crime] cases,” added Malaza.
As always, the highlight of Soweto Pride is the march, starting at 10am and taking the same 4 to 5 km route as last year. The march is intended to be an expression of visibility, community solidarity and celebration.
Malaza urged the LGBT community to not simply arrive at the park for the post-march festivities, as is often the case at most Pride events in the city. “We call for people to participate in the march as it is in those numbers that indicate that LGBT people live in the township. The most important element for FEW is the march,” she said.
Soweto Pride 2015
The march will stop at the local police station to “remind the police and the community that violence still happens to lesbians and other LGBT people.”
Soweto Pride will also include a political programme of speeches as well as entertainment, community stalls and a picnic. Local councillors are expected to take part in and support the event.
The community is invited to bring camping chairs and picnic baskets. The event runs until 5pm at which time participants are asked to head home.
Soweto Pride 2016 has been the subject of some controversy after the organisers announced that HIV testing will not be allowed at this year’s event.