Civil society organisations in the Eastern Cape have come together under the umbrella of “Buffalo City Pride”, to plan and host a unified LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival that will culminate in a Pride march on 28 October along East London’s Esplanade.
Partner organisations are Access Charter 2, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality’s Special Projects Unit, Bumb’Ingomso, Commission for Gender Equality, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, Masivuke Community Development, OUT LGBT Well-Being, Sonwa Sabuka Institute for the Performing Arts, SHE – Social Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa and WITS RHI; with other partners still joining.
South Africa observes Pride Month in October; a time to reflect on progress as well as the ongoing challenges in advancing the rights and protections of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Despite South Africa having a strong set of laws to prohibit and address discrimination, the Eastern Cape Office of the SA Human Rights Commission received 667 complaints during 2022/23, with sexual orientation complaints constituting the bulk of complaints.
“The South African LGBTQIA+ community continues to battle discrimination, deadly violence and hate crimes. In as much as we need progressive laws to prevent and combat hate crimes and hate speech; we need a societal change of heart,” says Sikhander Coopoo, an East London activist and one of the event’s organisers.
The groups have also highlighted the erasure of Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania’s queer communities, homophobia and xenophobia against LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the disproportionate burden of gender-based violence on womxn of all sexual orientations.
“Amidst challenges, it becomes extremely vital that we create safe spaces in our cities and towns,” asserts Coopoo. “Spaces where the queer community will not be discriminated against, and that are free from violence and intimidation. An inclusive united citywide Pride Festival is one way to facilitate the creation of safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community. ”
Central to Buffalo City Pride is education, information and awareness about the social, political, cultural and health issues that affect our LGBTQIA+ community.
Buffalo City Pride March: What to expect
The Buffalo City Pride march is scheduled to take place along the East London Esplanade on Saturday, 28 October 2023 from 12 noon until 15:00, starting at Heroes Park and ending at Orient Beach.
Heroes Park is the Assembly Point where the opening and welcome will take place. The march will then proceed along the esplanade and stop outside the EL ICC and then the Orient Pools for two mini-talks.
The march will then continue to Orient Beach for a Pride Unity Gathering where the keynote address will be delivered by Leigh-Anne van der Merwe, a commissioner of the SA Commission for Gender Equality.
At the Pride Unity Gathering, partner organisations will have the opportunity to put up pop-up info points for advice or information. This will also be an opportunity for wonderful photo-op moments and some beach fun.
There is no charge to participate in the Buffalo City Pride march. It is open to all, young and old alike; and will be as short a distance as possible to enable differently-abled people to participate. The event is alcohol-free.
“We want to firmly put the LGBTQIA+ community on the map in Buffalo City – and need as inclusive and diverse representation as possible. The success of Buffalo City Pride is dependent on each of us,” say the organisers.
“Please join us to celebrate Pride in unity with all across our beautiful continent and honour those unable to celebrate with us. Even though we still have a long way to go, we need to always remember that love is proudly African, and hate is not. Buffalo City Pride belongs to all of us – you, me, them, she, he.”
Click here for the full Buffalo City Pride Festival calendar of events.