Jean-Jacques Cornish

First gay pride in eSwatini under protective diplomatic eyes

The rainbow flag has flown over Southern Africa’s last absolute monarchy as hundreds of people participated in the first gay pride march in Swaziland, now officially called eSwatini.

The gay rights group Rock of Hope organized the event despite some strong public opposition in the kingdom where homosexuality is still illegal.

The eSwatini Commission on Human Rights was at the Prince of Wales Stadium in the capital Mbabane where marchers congregated with gay rights groups from South Africa showing solidarity.

The US Ambassador to the Kingdom Lisa Peterson, over served proceedings along with representatives of the European Union and other diplomats.Petersen said she was thrilled that event could take place, adding that the envoys were there to make justice for all.

Just last Sunday the Swaziland Observer published a full-page letter accusing the organizers of the march of promoting 

paedophilia and bestiality.

King Mswati III has called homosexuality satanic and questioned whether there are gay people in his kingdom

Rock of Hope communications officer Melusi Simelane said gay pride is about promoting the safety of homosexuals, lesbians and transexuals.

The right time would never come for many Swazis to accept this so it’s matter of being brave enough now.

The participants wore t-shirts declaring God is love.

Official spokesman for aid-dependant eSwatini Percy Simelane has anti sodomy laws with the government having questioned in the past whether LGBTIQ people even existed in the country.

Swazi government officials insist it is unfair to describe the Kingdom as homophobic.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.