The Campus Student Representative Council (CSRC): Universal Access and Social Justice Council at the University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with Kovsie Pride Society has ended off the campus’s Pride Week that started on 15 September, with a Pride March on Saturday, 18 September.
With the help of the Free State Traffic Department, students marched from the main gate of the UFS to the visitors’ gate. According to Katlego Sekele, CSRC Universal Access and Social Justice, the student populous of the UFS have taken note of the spike in homophobic and transphobic attacks that have swept the country.
Speaking to Sekele at the Pride march, she said that the purpose of the Pride Walk was to raise awareness against the plague of these attacks and, in the same breath, encourage the South African government to pass the Prevention and Combating of Crimes Bill so that a uniform understanding and idea of what constitutes hate crimes may be obtained as to ensure that these crimes may be properly handled and prosecuted by the courts and the South African Police Service as hate crimes.
Luvuyo Jacobs, who was one of the students in attendance, said that he was there in support of the initiative taken by the council of Universal Access and Social Justice. He also stated that the council hosted different programmes throughout the campus’s Pride Week to support the LGBTIQI+ community.
“The one message I would just like to send out in support of the Pride Walk is that it’s okay. It’s okay to be who you are. It is okay to exist within the space of a university as a person of the LGBTIQI+ community as you will receive the necessary support,” he said.
Addressing the students at the march, Vusumzi Gqalane, CSRC Policy and Transformation, said as the CSRC and the students they want to create a space that is welcoming, diverse and all-inclusive of all students at the UFS. “I think this initiative is one of the first steps in going forward to fight and ensure that our voices are being heard. It is our task to make sure that both residentially and institutionally the voice of the LGBTIQI+ community is being heard,” Gqalane concluded.