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How people in one of Africa’s last monarchies celebrate Pride even though it’s illegal

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illegal to be gay in the Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly called Swaziland, since the Brits colonised the African nation in the 1800s.Campaigner Mangaliso Mndzebele told the country, one of three monarchies left on the continent, has historically seen LGBTQ+ people as ‘satanic’.Former prime minister Maphevu Dlamini said in 2018: ‘Being gay is an abnormality and a sickness.’Most LGBTQ+ people in Eswatini are still living in the closet, local activists have said.The British common law criminalises sodomy between two men and, although it does not specify anything about women, this is seen as a blanket ban on same-sex relationships.The law has not been enforced by police or courts for decades, but LGBTQ+ communities say they still ‘face human rights violations’ in their daily lives.This is because the community fears they will lose their jobs, be separated from their loved ones and experience prejudice.Despite all this, more than 300 people gathered to celebrate being who they are last Saturday.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video‘It brings hope.

Everytime we have a Pride event, it brings hope,’ one of the Pride organisers, Sisanda Mavimbela, said. Sisanda explained how in previous years, when Pride was not restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, crowds would get bigger at night because people only felt safe to celebrate when their identities were concealed by the dark.But this year many more people were ‘out and proud’ during the day, Sisanda said.Maxwell Gumbi went to Pride for the first time last weekend and enjoyed it so much he now thinks it ‘should happen twice a year’.

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