Press Release

WHAT'S HAPPENING AROUND YOU

The Rock of Hope Eswatini hosted Eswatini’s LGBTIQA Pride celebration Virtual

June 27, 2020 - Manzini, Eswatini

ESWATINI PRIDE 2020 CELEBRATION

Introduction

Today marks exactly 51 years since the Stonewall Riots, in protest of a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. The LGBTI community stood firm in defense of their rights to associate and congregate in light of oppressive laws of that era. It is the Stonewall riots that gave birth to pride month across the globe, a month laced with rainbow celebrations, acknowledging gains made in pushing for the rights of LGBTI persons and also highlighting the challenges that still inhibit the functioning and capabilities of the LGBTI community. Eswatini LGBTI community, with the support from development partners, has hosted its first pride in June of 2018, and has ensured to host an Eswatini pride every year since. This year the whole world succumbed to the COVID19 pandemic, promulgating a new normal where social distancing became a way of showing love. Therefore, the third Eswatini pride had to conform to this new normal, and it was held online on The Rock of Hope Eswatini Facebook page, under the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’.

The event was graced by Her Excellency Esmeralda Hernandez-Aragones, Ambassador of the European Union to the Kingdom of Eswatini. Another dignitary present during the event was Her Excellency Lisa Peterson, Ambassador of the United States of America.

The Ambassador of the European Union gave her remarks through a speech in support of the celebrations. The Pride has been co-funded by the European Union through the Project “Out and Proud: LGBTI Equality and Rights in Southern Africa”. In the recent Launch of the project for the IDAHOBIT Day Her Excellency the Ambassador of the European Union mentioned that her delegation firmly supports the implementation of the project and looks forward to contribute meaningfully in advocating for the full realization of the LGBTI community in Eswatini. The European Union continues to support and stands firm with the LGBTI community as shown in all these years with the Ambassador joining at the forefront from the first pride event. "In her own words she mentioned that “The European Union is reporting that indeed the United Nations will leave no one behind, any community or any lgbti community. The European Union is behind the lgbti community in the country monetary and in other ways. Spaces where organizations that support lgbti persons should be created. Indeed there is legislative things to improve and to modify, we will continue to make public advocacy and political advocacy with the government to allow democracy for the people of Eswatini for the communities of the lgbti community. No one, no matter who we love or who we are, everyone has to have the same rights, this is something that has to be integrated to all mentalities. I am supporting the feminist group in the kingdom of Eswatini because I think it is very important, there is also women in the movement of the lgbti community in the kingdom of Eswatini and we cannot leave them behind. So far we are happy with the things we are trying to achieve, we hope that soon concrete advice will be reached and change of mentalities in the country that there will be no discrimination to access to health, economy and everything”.

The Ambassador to the United States of America Her Excellency Lisa Peterson in her speech mentioned that "Countries flourish when they embrace and harness the entirety of their citizens' differences and talents. Categorizing people and labeling them with limiting stereotypes stifles creativity, innovation, and development. And if people have to hide their true identities at work, at church, or elsewhere in the community, we all miss out on the full range of talents and contributions they could be making."

As we celebrate pride The Rock of Hope Eswatini, pledges to continue supporting the LGBTI movement in the country through building a strong cadre of LGBTI individuals and community members in order to step up efforts of advocacy towards repealing the sodomy Act of 1907, and movement towards attainment of full rights for the LGBTI community. Ours is not only just a movement towards the attainment of LGBTI rights, rather it is a movement towards the attainment of human rights for all the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Eswatini. Human rights are universal, inalienable and thus should be afforded to all that live in Eswatini in that stance.

This statement is not to the effect that as the community we do not understand and appreciate the strides that the Kingdom of Eswatini has taken in advancing the rights of the LGBTI community, the pride also celebrates such efforts, mostly the undertaking that the country has made to the UPR 2016 that no citizen of the Kingdom of Eswatini shall be prosecuted on the basis of the sodomy act. We acknowledge and commend the decision of the government of Eswatini in supporting non-discriminatory practices in accessing health and accessing basic police service. Over and above celebrating these achievements, we cannot stop calling for the government as the duty bearer to ensure full functioning’s and capabilities of the LGBTI community are achieved in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

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