The LGBTI Pride rainbow flag has officially been flown on a government building in South Africa, an occasion which is believed to be the first for the nation.
The flag raising ceremony which was held outside the Tshwane City Hall in Pretoria marked Human Rights Day, which was commemorated across the rainbow country.
Organised by the Democratic Alliance (DA), which is the governing party in Tshwane, The initiative has been praised by local and international officials.
The DA said in a statement that the flag raising aimed to highlight the reality that “human rights for the LGBTQ community in Africa are often trampled upon, with LGBTQ community members being treated as second-class citizens.”
“Raising a flag in South Africa’s capital speaks to more than the LGBTQ community’s freedom, but also recognises and protects the rights of the LGBTQ community.”
The historic ceremony which was held on the morning of Wednesday the 21st of March 2018 at the City Hall was attended by an intimate and festive group which included a number of DA officials, including MP and DA Shadow Minister of Police Zakhele Mbhele, the first openly gay black MP in Africa.
Mbhele, who had the honour of raising the flag, told the crowd that the LGBTQ community was not asking for special rights but is “simply asking for the rights that everybody else enjoys and is entitled to in the Constitution.”
Mbhele highlighted that laws and rights on paper were not enough. “If we don’t have state institutions that we can rely on, to uphold and enforce those rights, then our rights are greatly limited.
“If you are a victim of hate crime, you must have an effective police service that you can go to and open your case, and not be a victim of secondary victimisation where the police further harass you because you are gay, lesbian or transgender,” Mbhele explained.