eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) may be tiny, and it may be illegal to be gay, but they just hosted their first Pride.
Despite threats, it was a massive success.
A former British colony, the south African nation still has laws stating it is illegal to have gay sex. It is a landlocked country between South Africa and Mozambique with a population of about 1.4 million people.
Against all odds, eSwatini (Swaziland) Pride was a massive success
The King of Swaziland said same-sex relationships are ‘satanic’. Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini said being gay is ‘an abnormality and a sickness’.
The Rock of Hope’s Melusi Simelane organized the event. Over 1200 people, from around the world, donated via All Out to make this Pride a reality.
‘Nobody quite knew how it was going to go,’ Matt Beard, from All Out, who is in the capital Mbabane, told Gay Star News.
‘What has transpired has been incredible. It’s inspirational to the movement across Africa. It started at a football stadium here in Mbabane and the parade moved through the city.
‘There was an explosion of joy and color and song. There was a sense this was inspiring others, especially those who have been hiding for so long.’
‘Today shows a successful Pride…is possible in Africa’
Beard gave credit to Simelane for having the ‘audacity and determination’ to carry through with Pride in eSwatini.
‘A year ago it would have seemed like a fantastical idea – it was just not on people’s radars,’ he said.
‘There have been very successful Prides in Africa. Melusi came to us a year ago, and asked if we could work on this together. We just love that sense of cheeky audacity to make this a reality.’
Beard believes today will catalyze the LGBTI movement and possibly create a pathway to decriminalize homosexuality.
‘Today shows a successful Pride without violence and without intimidation is possible in Africa,’ he said.