US embassy identified Sandton district as potential target, but event went ahead after South African authorities insisted it was safe
Thousands of people gathered for the Pride march in South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg on Saturday despite a warning from the US embassy of a possible terror attack.
The event took place under heavy security in the upmarket district of Sandton, identified by the US embassy as a potential target.
South African authorities had assured organisers it was safe to proceed with the march, returning after a two-year break because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The US warning angered Pretoria. President Cyril Ramaphosa called it “unfortunate” and said it was causing “panic” in the country.
“We are always fighting for visibility and we are always in danger, so me hearing of the terrorist attack [warning], it didn’t even bother me,” said Anold Mulaisho, an LGBTQ activist, told AFP. “Either way, if I die my family already rejected me anyway, so no one is gonna get to miss me.”
State department spokesperson 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 of US government personnel.
“We deeply appreciate the efforts that they make to protect their interests and in turn our interests,” Price told reporters.
South Africa has some of the most progressive laws in the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights. It was the first country in Africa to legalise gay marriage. But in practice, stigmas still persist.
Also attending the 33rd Pride march on Saturday was medical doctor Lethuxolo Shange, who said: “Queer people … are killed every single day. We still have a very long way [to go], the law is there, but the practice and the mindset in our community hasn’t changed. We are still working on that, and hoping for a better future.”
Source: The Guardian