Swaziland, Africa’s last monarchy ruled by King Mswati III since 1986 officially renamed the country ‘eSwatini‘ in April, is in the news again for having its first-ever LGBTQ pride parade in a country that doesn’t support homosexuality. The pride march was organized by the Rock of Hope, a local nonprofit, and supported by international LGBT advocacy organizations all over the world, it was funded by All Out, and featured well-known Swazi musicians and artists.
This was a moment of community and personal empowerment. A powerful boost to so many who have had to hide, but who today experienced the giddy excitement of visibility and deep community. At certain moments during the parade, the infectious joy of this community was so intense, it was difficult to hold back the tears, said Matt Beard, Executive Director of the advocacy group All Out, in a statement to CNN.
The pride championed the slogan ‘Turn hate into love‘ as people marched downs the streets of the capital Mbabane courageously, expressing themselves with their rainbow flags and spirit of freedom to be whatever one wants.
In Swaziland, same-sex relationships are illegal and the country maintains a colonial-era law against sodomy. The US State Department’s report on global human rights practices in 2017 stated that Swazi people open about their sexual orientation “faced censure and exclusion from the chiefdom-based patronage system.”, CNN Africa Reports.
This is the first event of its kind, our first opportunity to show our faces to the world and to our country. The right time will never come, It is an issue of being courageous enough. So we decided if no-one is going to do it, we would, said Melusi Simelane of The Rock of Hope.
The march is a historic feat for Swaziland though King Mswati III continues to condemn their acts, describing being homosexual as being ‘satanic’ the parade flips the country into a new chapter with a better story for those who live in fear of their sexuality in the country.
— Jamil F. Khan (@JamilFarouk) July 2, 2018
The first Swaziland Pride is over and it was a HUGE success! The community and their allies painted the streets of this country rainbow, with a beautiful, colourful parade that was literally exploding with joy. #eSwatiniPride #SwazilandPride pic.twitter.com/w2Wl2UGeCp
— All Out (@AllOut) June 30, 2018
— Mbali (@yasemahozenimnd) June 30, 2018
From Pride with Love. #EswatiniPride. This weekend only showed that there is Unity in Diversity. #LiveLoveLearnRespect everyone. #swazilandpride #swazitwitter @TheRockOfHopeSD @YAM_Eswatini pic.twitter.com/AtYcJmkg5K
— FLAS | Temndeni (@FLAS79) July 2, 2018
— wake up, wake up, love, it is thine own true lover (@Tioranta) June 30, 2018
— Sis 💖 (@NonoTsh) June 30, 2018