Thousands of people gathered for the Pride march in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, on Saturday, despite the US Embassy’s warning of a possible terror attack.
The event took place under tight security in the upscale Sandton neighborhood, identified by the US Embassy as a potential target.
South African authorities had assured organizers it was safe to continue the march, returning after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The American warning angered Pretoria. President Cyril Ramaphosa called it “unfortunate” and said it was causing “panic” in the country.
“We are still fighting for visibility and we are still in danger, so I hear about the terrorist attack [warning]it didn’t even bother me,” Anold Mulaisho, an LGBTQ activist, told AFP. “Anyway, if I die, my family has already rejected me anyway, so no one will miss me. .”
State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday praised security efforts in South Africa and Nigeria, where the United States issued a separate security alert that led to the evacuation of families from the US government personnel.
“We deeply appreciate their efforts to protect their interests and, therefore, our interests,” Price told reporters.
South Africa has some of the most progressive LGBTQ rights laws in the world. It was the first country in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage. But in practice, the stigma persists.
Doctor Lethuxolo Shange, who also attended the 33rd Pride on Saturday, said: “Gay people… are being killed every day. We still have a very long way to go [to go], the law is there, but the practice and mindset of our community has not changed. We are still working on it and hope for a better future.