South Africa has become the first country in the world to recognize the rainbow flag as a national symbol.
South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture, through its Bureau of Heraldry, announced the registry of the flag in the official Government Gazette this week following an application by the South African version of the rainbow flag’s designer, Eugene Brockman.
‘The Gay Flag of SA is now officially recognized and protected by the Department of Arts and Culture and the government of South Africa,” said Mava Mothiba, a spokesperson for the department.
The South African rainbow flag takes the traditional rainbow LGBT pride flag designed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978 but adds the diagonal and horizontal white and black bars of the South African flag to the design.
Brockman told the O-Blog-De-O-Blog-Da blog, ‘The flag has become a symbol for both the celebration of queer South African identity as well as the a symbol against the obstacles facing LGBTI South Africans such as hate crimes.’
‘More than that the flag has become a watch dog, and its popularity resulted in the formation of an NPO advocacy group.’
Brockman is the co-founder of South African LGBT rights group Rainbow Flag of South Africa that was inspired by the flag.
Despite ongoing discrimination, South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination against sexual orientation and, in 2006, it became the first African nation to legalize same-sex marriage.