Johannesburg Pride marches for LGBTQ+ Ugandans in wake of Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Johannesburg Pride dedicated this year’s march to LGBTQ+ people living in Uganda, who face the world’s harshest anti-gay laws under Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

The 34th Johannesburg Pride, which was estimated to have a 24,000 strong crowd marching for equality, took place at the Wanderers Stadium in the South African city on Saturday (28 October). 

This year’s event was dedicated to LGBTQ+ Ugandans and all Africans who “cannot march for themselves”, following the passage of the East African nation’s vile Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

Signed into law in May, the archaic legislation doubles down on already harsh punishments for LGBTQ+ people in Uganda – where same-sex sexual activity is illegal – by issuing life imprisonment for same-sex sexual activity and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. 

The new crime of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ sees people sentenced to death for having sex with people who are disabled, HIV positive, have mental health issues or those who are over the age of 75, amongst other categories. 

Alongside this, people who are found to “promote” or “normalise” homosexuality face up to 20 years in prison. 

You may like to watch

Attendees sing while taking part during the Johannesburg Pride Parade (GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP) (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are very far away from creating an inclusive society where children, the youth, and adults are totally accepted for their authentic self,” Johannesburg Pride organiser Kaye Ally told radio host Bongani Bingwa

She continued: “At the end of the day, Pride is very relevant if you look what is happening not just in South Africa but Africa. The sentiment that it is un-African to be gay is at its height.

“In particular, we are marching for Uganda.” 

Mandela Swali, a 25-year-old Ugandan gay man headed up the parade, after only being in South Africa for a month. 

Swali, who donned glitter and Ugandan flag, said he fled the country after he was arrested for having sex with his boyfriend. “This is the space and this is the family I deserve to have right now. I feel like I’m at home,” he said.