After several years of active work, obtaining funding and selecting a suitable venue, Rwandan LGBTQ activists are ready to host the First Pride Festival. This is a country where Coming out poses a serious threat to one’s safety.
Due to the restrictions of Covid-19, LGBTQ activists are waiting for up to 200 people at the Pride Festival. It will be held in July in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Representatives of the state and media will also attend the festival.
“The main purpose of this event is to remind the public about our existence once again. We are here, we need equal treatment and involvement in society.” – Albert Nabinibo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The coordinator of the local LGBTQ coalition Isange, and a 36-year-old gospel singer who came out in 2019 on TV.
“We have personal stories to share with you as evidence of the discrimination we face.” – Nabonibo said in the same interview.
Rwanda is one of the few African countries where gay relationships are not criminalized. Although LGBTQ marriage is still banned in this conservative country, and as LGBTQ rights activists say, homophobic sentiments are widespread in the country.
LGBTQ Rwandans say they are often fired, evicted, equated with demonic creatures, and in the case of coming out, family members and friends are threatened with violence and forced to leave the country.
Victor Chicalogwe, a Rwandan activist and director of the NGO People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty, describes the Rwandan Pride Festival as a bold and hopeful move.
“Pride marches are rare in Africa because public marches can pose a serious threat to LGBTQ people and make them a target.” – says Roche Kester, an activist from South Africa. She has been organizing the Pride March in South Africa since 1990.
Rwanda Pride organizers plan a variety of fun and educational activities during Pride Week, including a football match between LGBTQ activists and members of the media to get to know each other better.