Africa / Europe

LGBTI Africans: Out and proud in Birmingham

Members of the African diaspora LGBTI rights organization Out and Proud Diamond Group took part in Birmingham Pride. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

Members of the African diaspora LGBTI rights organization Out and Proud Diamond Group took part in Birmingham Pride. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

The diaspora African LGBTI activists of Out and Proud Diamond Group  appealed for justice and LGBTI rights in their home countries as they took part in the Pride celebration in Birmingham, United Kingdom, on May 28-29. The organization issued this press release (modestly edited here).

It was a marriage proposal rather than a starting pistol which launched Birmingham Pride 2016 over the bank holiday weekend.

And the biggest parade in the event’s 20-year history got underway when Thomas Jones asked David Fox to marry him. Thankfully, David said “yes.”

This beautiful and inspiring marriage proposal was witnessed by over 70 members of the African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Group and other people.

Miss Yudaya Serubula, a Ugandan lesbian living in United Kingdom, said,

“Wow, this marriage proposal symbolizes the love that people in Birmingham have shown to this pride in the last 20 years, I only wish to see this happening in Uganda and other countries which still criminalize homosexuality.”

The banner of  Out and Proud Diamond Group was prominent in the Birmingham Pride parade. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

The banner of Out and Proud Diamond Group was prominent in the Birmingham Pride parade. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

Thousands of people  lined the city streets of Birmingham city for the parade to kick-start the two-day celebration.

The huge crowd including Out and Proud Diamond Group (African LGBTI) made its way into the festival area in the Village to be entertained by DJs and pop stars including Tulisa, Fleur East, Katy B and Liberty X.

Members of Out and Proud Diamond Group entertained the people on the streets of Birmingham with their African music and dance moves. They also carried placards with messages like:

  • “Some Nigerians are gay. Get over it”
  • “Some Ugandans are gay. Get over it”
  • “Some Africans are gay. Get over it”
  • “Unite against religious bigotry”
  • “Stop homophobia in the Commonwealth”
  • “Anti-LGBTI laws stall HIV prevention”
  • “Stop stigma around HIV and hepatitis.”

They also called on the government of the United Kingdom to stop its anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies and laws.

Glorious sunshine and only the gentlest of breezes made the 20th-anniversary Birmingham Pride 2016 carnival one of the biggest and best yet.

The theme of this years pride was “A Generation Of Pride.” This theme  celebrated the pivotal, hard-fought achievements of the LGBT community over the last 20 years in United Kingdom. These milestones include an equal age of consent; civil partnerships; the right to serve in the military; the right for trans people to legally change their gender; marriage for lesbian, gay and bisexual couples; and equal adoption rights for same-sex couples. The UK also enjoys the highest LGBT representation of any parliament in the world.

Nigerian members of Out and Proud Diamond Group had messages for Birmingham Pride. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

Nigerian members of Out and Proud Diamond Group had messages for Birmingham Pride. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

Joan Ayebare, a Ugandan lesbian and a member of Out and Proud Diamond Group, said:

“I am happy to be living in a country that prides itself in equality for LGBTI people. Even though all these achievements did not come in a year, they are here now. However, it is time now for the international community to support us in our quest to bring these achievements in our countries.”

Festival Director Lawrence Barton commented:

“We’re extremely excited about the preparations for this year’s 20th Birmingham Pride event, and want to make it a celebration of all those local, national, and international achievements in LGBT equality through the last 20 years.”

On a local level, the Pride 2016 theme also celebrates the development of Birmingham’s own gay scene into one of the most popular in the country. Starting off with just a handful of venues, the city’s Gay Village now features over 15 vibrant and diverse bars and clubs as well as one of the first LGBT health and well-being centres in England and Wales.

Theodore Ngwanya, a Cameroonian gay man and a member of Out and Proud Diamond Group, said:

“This is my first pride in my life. I am so excited, happy and hopeful. This kind of life was a dream to me whilst in Cameroon, seeing many bars, pubs, clubs, people celebrating makes me feel that I was actually denied life as a gay man in Cameroon. These kind of celebrations cannot now take place in my country, but I am hopeful that it will happen some time.”

The theme also marked the LGBT community’s journey as a generation, and also reflects on the extraordinary journey of Birmingham Pride itself. From its humble beginnings in 1997 when the event was staged outside the city’s Nightingale Club and attended by just a few thousand people, the festival has, more recently, evolved into one of the UK’s leading LGBT gatherings, attracting over 50,000 visitors each year.

Aidah Asaba, a lesbian from Uganda, said:

“This history of Birmingham Pride might be written about Uganda Pride in years to come. This is my third year celebrating Birmingham Pride. I always look forward to this event. Even though I am here to celebrate, I am also here to raise awareness of the injustice that we are facing as LGBTI people in our countries.”

Samuel Dipeolu, a Nigerian gay man and member of Out and Proud Diamond Group, commented:

“There’s a real nice feeling to Pride, there’s no trouble, it’s just a lovely atmosphere, lovely people, from all walks of life. I strongly appeal to the Nigerian government to repeal the  anti-LGBTI laws such that we can have similar celebrations without any fear of being sent to prison or being killed.”

In Birmingham, Out and Proud Diamond Group disputed the claim that homosexuality is un-African. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

In Birmingham, Out and Proud Diamond Group disputed the claim that homosexuality is un-African. (Photo courtesy of OPDG)

Isaac Kawesi, a Ugandan gay man and mobiliser of the Out and Proud Diamond Group contingent at Birmingham Pride, said:

“A majority of our members come from Commonwealth countries that criminalize homosexuality, yet they are currently living in one of the best countries in Commonwealth to be gay. So there is a big change for them. I use this chance to call on Commonwealth heads of government meeting 2018 to discuss the need for LGBTI rights.”

Edwin Sesange, director of  Out and Proud Diamond Group, said:

“Today we are sending a clear message to the Speaker of the 10th Uganda Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, to shelve her plans of bringing back to life the annulled anti-LGBTI bill. These plans will only affect Ugandans instead of making our lives better.

“The world has moved on from colonial laws to acceptance and tolerance. She should borrow a leaf from Britain.

“The speaker should concentrate on solving issues that are affecting Ugandans like corruption, idol worship, theft of public funds, democracy, poor health facilities, violation of basic human rights, and poverty, among others.

“The speaker of Uganda’s parliament and Ugandan President Mr. Yoweri Museveni should do their best to make sure that they solve all issues that are making Ugandans leave their country.”

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2 thoughts on “LGBTI Africans: Out and proud in Birmingham

  1. Pingback: End anti-LGBTI religious bias, London Pride marchers say | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: Diaspora African LGBTI activists win status as U.K. charity | 76 CRIMES

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