We meant to post this yesterday but got a bit distracted. Shocker, right?
Anyway, we’re thrilled to bit to hear about the recent march in Soweto – the township south west of Johannesburg, South Africa – at which dozens of lesbians displayed themselves and their rights. Breaking barriers, the ladies came out in an effort to raise lesbian visibility in an area not known for accepting gays with open arms.
As South Africa’s The Independent reports:
[R]ights groups say attacks on gays and lesbians have increased this year, which show that while the government recognises their rights the message has not filtered down to all South Africans.
Human Rights Watch reported a rising number of hate crimes against lesbians following the death of a young woman earlier this year who was beaten with golf clubs and bricks, then stabbed by boys in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township.
The women’s march recalls the early days of the anti-apartheid movement, when women first took to the streets to protest pass laws. Further, Soweto was a crucial space during the movement: it’s where apartheid forces shed their shiny veneer and opened fire on 10,000 student protesters on June 16, 1976, leading to widespread riots across the country. (Above you can see a picture from before 566 people died.)
Reception to the recent march was mixed. While older generations shook their heads with disdain, others openly accepted their presence. Still, many are ambivalent. 18-year old Rosemnary Dlamini said, “For me, I don’t mind them. But I do think it’s strange, very strange.”
Slowly, but surely, South African gays are breaking new ground.