South Africa’s Queer Community Marks IDAHOBIT 2024

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Several events were held across South Africa this week to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), under the 2024 theme of “No one left behind: Equality, Freedom, and Justice for All”.

IDAHOBIT is celebrated on 17 May to mark the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. It is an opportunity to highlight the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people across the globe.

On 14 May, Beyond the Margins, in collaboration with Iranti and in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union, the Embassy of Sweden and the Delegation of Flanders, held a screening in Pretoria of four documentaries that shed light on the challenges faced by intersex and transgender people, parents and allies across Southern Africa.

The documentary screening in Pretoria was attended by a wide range of people (Photo: Shizeeda Osman)

The event, attended by activists, parents of transgender and intersex children, government officials, and embassy representatives, also highlighted the recent landmark Human Rights Council resolution addressing discrimination, violence, and harmful practices against intersex people.

On Thursday, the European Union Delegation to South Africa, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Pretoria, unveiled their Pride Rainbow Flag driveway in celebration of IDAHOBIT 2024.

Activist and celebrity, Thami Dish joined the dignitaries in inaugurating the Pride Rainbow Flag driveway (Photo: EU in SA)

“This rainbow driveway symbolises our commitment to LGBTQIA+ rights and is an important part of us speaking out as an ally,” said Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Joanne Doornewaard. EU Deputy Ambassador Fulgencio Garrido-Ruiz added that “we want to assert equality and non-discrimination as core values and fundamental rights – everybody should feel free to be who they are, without fear of persecution.”

Ahead of the upcoming elections in South Africa, GALA Queer Archive, Iranti, and the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies hosted a Pride and Politics Town Hall Debate on Friday. The event also included a placard-making session.

Political party representatives fielded questions from the queer community in Johannesburg at the Town Hall (Photo: Iranti)

With representatives from several key political parties, it was a platform for queer citizens to engage with political candidates, asking hard-hitting questions and holding them accountable to their promises.

The event saw representatives from the ANC, Rise Mzansi, Cope, the DA and Action SA participating in this robust and important democracy-strengthening engagement.

IDAHOBIT was also commemorated in Kliptown, Soweto by the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW), the Kliptown Youth Program, Parents, Families & Friends of South African Queers (PFSAQ) and Rainbow Refuge Africa.

Representatives from civil society groups addressed around 80 members of the community who attended, several of whom shared what this year’s IDAHOBIT theme means for them. The event was also attended by officials from the embassies of Argentina and Germany.

Activists and members of the LGBTQI+ community came out to celebrate IDAHOBIT in Soweto on Friday (Photo: Rainbow Refuge Africa)

In Rosebank, Johannesburg, OUT LGBT Well-being launched its new Engage Men’s Health clinic for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men on IDAHOBIT. The clinic, which offers free HIV and STI services, will also serve as a community space for the LGBTIQ+ community and a base for the project’s mobile outreach teams.

The facility was inaugurated by the Gauteng MEC for health and wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, and saw performances by the Johannesburg Queer Chorus and drag artist Labelz D’ Glamour.

“Stigma has been identified as one of the key barriers to bringing the HIV/AIDS crisis to an end,” said OUT Programme Manager Joseph Adams. “So, it’s significant that this clinic is located within a vibrant hub like Rosebank. It’s proudly visible and accessible, bringing our services and community out of the shadows and into the light, on an equal footing with all South Africans.”

The Johannesburg Queer Chorus and Labelz D’ Glamour entertained the crowd at the launch of the Engage Men’s Health clinic in Rosebank, Johannesburg (Photo: Supplied)

The IDAHOBIT commemorations concluded on Saturday 18 May with the annual Khumbulani (“Remember” in isiXhosa) Pride march, which this year took place in Nyanga, Cape Town.

Described as a day of Pride, solidarity, and advocacy, Khumbulani Pride was started in 2013 to raise awareness about queer rights in Cape Town’s townships and to honour victims of hate crime.

This event saw veteran activist Zackie Achmat, who is standing as an independent candidate for the National Assembly, joining dozens of people to march against homophobia and transphobia.

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