By Emily Setona
QWAQWA – Rainbow Unity Networks (RUN) sends a colourful message to the community of Qwaqwa through their collaborative efforts with the local municipality to give pride and dignity to the LGBTQI community through their Pride Walk.
RUN is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2017 and offers support to the LGBTQI and their families and works with the Qholaqhwe advise centre on issues of gender-based violence (GBV) and advocacy. LGBTQI is an umbrella term that refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. “As RUN, we offer moral and emotional support to the LGBTQI and facilitate community meetings where we educate families and communities on sexual orientation, gender identity and LGBTQI issues,” Tiiso Mahase director of RUN said when speaking to The Guard.
According to Thato Lebaka who was part of the walk, the work that such organisations do is very important because as a member of the LGBTQI community the support they offer the community shows just what democracy is truly about but there is still a long way to go especially when it comes to issues such as health. “When it comes to health, the LGBTQI community does not receive the kind of treatment that is needed. People must still deal with a lack of accessibility to treatment and discrimination from health care practitioners,” Lebaka said.
Nagina Saniso who also participated in the Pride Walk said that it was wonderful to see a lot of people from the community who are not part of the LGBTQI come out in support of this walk. According to participants in the Pride Walk the people of Qwaqwa are starting to show more and more support and understanding towards the LGBTQI community.
When speaking to The Guard Mapaseka Madonsela the director of Qholaqhwe advise centre said that the advocacy work that they do in collaboration with organisations such as RUN really has a positive impact on changing people’s perceptions about the LGBTQI community.
“RUN is forming working relationships with the local municipality and the district that is why we called our Pride Walk Thabo Mofutsanyana Pride. We are trying to get the attention of the community by being visible in the streets,” Mahase said.