After the historical change in legislation about homosexuality earlier in 2019, it was only fitting for the Botswana LGBTIQ+ community to come together and celebrate the first-ever Gaborone Pride.
Back in June the three-judge High Court bench unanimously ruled that the criminalising laws were discriminatory against LGBT people in Botswana and breached their rights to privacy, dignity and liberty.
Although Government members have intimated they will appeal the high court ruling, the change remains and so this was the perfect opportunity for the country to have a celebration of unity and love for LGBTIQ+ people and their friends, families and allies.
Gaborone Pride, was held under the Pride of Africa banner and supported by Johannesburg Pride’s Kaye Ally.
Gaborone is the Capital City of Botswana, sitting close to the South African border and only 4 hours drive from Johannesburg.
The event kicked off with a parade in the morning, after which marchers were treated to a host of entertainment and food, drink and merchandise stalls.
Significantly, a moment of silence was marked to honour the fallen heroes of the struggle for equality as well as those activists who are still fighting for a just world
Originally the organisers had projected a turnout of about 500 people but in the end, more than 1000 people attended the celebrations.
Records were broken as it was the first time any event hosted primarily for LGBTIQ+ persons had had more than 300 people and there were no incidents of discrimination or violence.
Although the first Gaborone Pride faced some financial challenges in putting on the event, there was notable opposition from and of the authorities.
The National Museum provided a venue while the local police service provided a police escort for the parade and were on hand to patrol the event during the day.
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Gaborone Pride organiser Olivia Mash said she is determined to ensure that the Pride becomes a bigger and better annual event.
“I feel the LGBTIQ+ people in Botswana need to have something to look forward to,” Mash said.
“We need a celebration with a purpose. We also need to find ways to empower our own, through performing arts, businesses and an increase in tourism, thus resulting in job opportunities for our community.
“This was only the beginning.”
Last Updated on Dec 31, 2019