LGBT Demonstrators Ambush Johannesburg Pride To Protest “Depoliticization”

Satuday, the 20,000 paradegoers attending Johannesburg Pride were surprised by protestors demonstrating against LGBT hate crimes and the “depoliticization” of the annual event.

The largest Pride on the Continent  started off at Zoo Lake Sports Club before noon, but came to a halt on Rosebank’s Jan Smuts Avenue when members of the 1 in 9 campaign blocked a major intersection. According to Mambo Online, the demonstrators laid out life-sized dummies and banners that read “Dying For Justice” and “No Cause for Celebration.”

Over the past two years Johannesburg has been plagued by a rash of grizzly murders of gay men under similar circumstances. It wasn’t until the eighth killing, in March, that authorities considered the possibility that the incidents were related. The leader of 1 in 9, Carrie Shelver, describes the g roup as a “feminist collective of predominantly queer women.” Shelver said their intention was to to create a moment of silence in recognitions of the murders.

Pride celebrants were reportedly confused by the ambush—some thinking it was led by anti-gay group—and a scuffle started when marshals tried to tear down the banners. “It’s embarrassing and tragic that something like this happened,” said one paradegoer. “We’re all on the same side. We’re all fighting for the same thing.”

Joburg Pride organizer Tanya Harford say 1 in 9 should have come to them first:

“If they had bothered to contact the Board we would have been very open to working with them. “We would have had no problem to have had a minute’s silence and we could have made a very powerful statement that would have benefited them.”

Shelver admitted that the group had not approached Pride organisers beforehand. When Mambaonline asked if the ambush nature of the protest could not have come across as confrontational, confusing and aggressive, Shelver replied that “we see ourselves as part of the LGBT community and we believed that we were able to do it”.

Harford insisted that the protest was “absolutely inappropriate and illegal. They had none of the necessary permissions. They also embarrassed the entire LGBT community. The campaign wasn’t explained nor was it clear about what their purpose is.

“They shot themselves in the foot. We are all horrified and outraged by any discriminatory crimes against LGBT people, but I just feel that what they did was, in my opinion, short-sighted and blinkered. No one knew what they were saying or who they were.”

The parade eventually continued with no further incident, ending in the late afternoon with performances by Ola, Crazy White Boy and Flash Republic. Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Nel made a surprised appearance, telling the crowd that while there was work to be done, his office was “proud to be proud with you today.”

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  • QJ201

    As many of the folks I know who volunteer for Pride say: It’s a March. We’ll have a parade when we have full equal rights.

  • viveutvivas

    It is not enough to spell check. Grizzly is a bear.

  • michaelza

    I was at the front of the parade when both the first incident and the second incident occurred.

    1 in 9 did not clearly state their purpose, or actually even their organization name. They also did not wear clothing identifying themselves as 1 in 9. The first thing we saw of them, is lying on the ground, in front of the parade, along with mock dead bodies. They held up a big banner saying “No Cause for Celebration”, their clothing was purple, and they kept asking us what we had against woman’s bodies.

    If they had asked for 1 minutes silence with a big banner, or even just clearly stated their organization name, that would have been a lot more productive. Not blocking the road with dead bodies, insulting banners and preventing the parade from passing.

    Most of the parade participants assumed they were an anti gay origination(as their are normally anti gay protesters at the parade), and with them saying, “no cause for celebration”, pretending to have dead bodies in the street, and trying to block the parade from proceeding, the parade participants(myself included) immediately jumped to the wrong conclusions, and it didn’t help that the 1 in 9 protestors repeatedly shouted why we hate woman’s bodies.

    Admittedly we didn’t take the time to read the pamphlets, but going from past experiences at pride with protestors handing out pamphlets, no-one was in the mood to read a pamphlet saying how God hates us and we are going to hell.

    Now some people are crying foul at the race card, while i personally saw a 1 in 9 protestor and a black parade participant almost come to blows screaming at each other. This was not about black vs white, this gay vs anti gay(mistakenly)

    This was either an unfortunate misunderstanding, or a deliberate stunt for attention. Its unfortunate that this happened, however i suppose 1 in 9 succeeded in their goal, as they received a lot of media attention, and did in fact raise awareness. Hopefully next year they will engage with the pride organizers so that the entire pride parade can participate in a minute’s silence, instead of a cheap stunt that no-one understood.

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