FEW determined to still host Soweto Pride this year

Soweto Pride 2015

Soweto Pride 2015

The organisers of the recently postponed Soweto Pride say they are still determined to host the event this year, and to ensure that it is “free and accessible to all”.

Last month, FEW (Forum for the Empowerment of Women) announced that, for the first time in its 12-year history, the Saturday 24 September Pride had been postponed after the authorities threatened to shut it down.

Just two weeks before it was set to take place, says FEW, the authorities increased Soweto Pride’s risk rating, on the basis of “unruly behaviour” at last year’s event. As a result, new conditions were imposed that would force FEW to fork out an additional R 146,000 to hold the event.

The authorities also banned participants from bringing their own alcohol and cooler boxes to avoid possible drunken behaviour, demanded that FEW obtain a liquor license to sell alcohol at the venue, and insisted that the organisation charge an entry fee as a means of crowd control.

In a statement, FEW said that these restrictions go “against our mission and vision to create accessible safe social spaces for LGBTI persons of all backgrounds”.

The group insisted that the new conditions are a violation of the constitutional right to have access to public spaces without fear of “violence from either public or private sources” and our “right to freedom of movement”.

FEW said that the restriction are “seemingly a deliberate attempt by state entities to discourage and stamp out all forms of political protest…” and claimed that it had been subjected to discrimination from officials, including statements such as “You people cannot be trusted” and “We cannot tell whether you people are male or female”.

FEW has made a number of demands. These include:

  • That the National Commissioner and any member of the South African Police Service delegated by said National Commissioner in terms of s46(4) of the Safety At Sports And Recreational Events Act No. 2 of 2010 [Herein referred to as “the Act”] fully complies with s6(7)(a)-(u), s6(8)(a)-(b) read in conjunction with s6(12) together with s36(1)(a), s36(c)(i) and s36(2) of the Act in determining the categorisation, amendment, appeal or setting aside of an event risk category.
  • That the SAPS, JMPD and Public Order Policing Unit comply with their mandate to serve and protect us without demanding that we pay for their services
  • That the MEC for Community Safety investigate the matter and make the findings public
  • That the Mayor of Johannesburg, the Premier of Gauteng and the MEC for Arts and Culture publicly declare that they support our right to organise and gather, and celebrate our heritage
  • That the City of Joburg endorses Soweto Pride as one of the key events during heritage month

FEW has urged the LGBTI+ community and its supporters “to speak out against this attack on our constitutional right to organise and to gather” by signing this petition.

It has also called for letters of support for Soweto Pride to be written to the Mayor, Premier, National and Gauteng Police Commissioners, the MEC for Arts and Culture and the MEC for Community Safety.

For more information, contact FEW on Forum4theempowermentofwomen@gmail.com.

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