Speaking at a press conference at the 21st International Aids Conference in Durban, English singer Elton John commended the rate at which gay people have been making a public appearance in South Africa.
Sir Elton John sat right next to his partner David Furnish at the conference on Wednesday.
He reminisced on his previous visit to the city several years ago with his partner Furnish.
He said on his first field trip‚ he had met some white gay people at a café.
“They didn’t want to be photographed with me. They didn’t want to be seen in newspapers. If they were seen with me it would be known they were gay. That was the scene a few years ago.”
He then compared the situation then to what we have now. People in Durban were openly gay and happy to be take pictures with him. “We have come a long way.”
Prior to his speech at the conference, he made a trip to Anova clinic for gay people in the city with Health Minster Aaron Motsoaledi.
The singer described the visit to the facility partially funded by the Elton John Foundation as an “amazing experience“.
Apparently pleased with what he saw at the clinic, the singer said South Africans “take a project and run with it“.
The recipients of the funding from the Elton John Foundation and The United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief were announced at the conference.
The funding is aimed at helping improve gay rights and defending the wrongly imprisoned especially when they are gay.
He said if “clinics for gay people close down… they can get medicine somewhere else.” and if they were jailed‚ they would be able to get legal support.
He also grabbed the opportunity to call for an end to the stigmatization of marginalized groups.
“If you give people love and compassion and include them — like LGBTI people‚ like drug users‚ like sex workers — you leave no one behind. But if you don’t campaign to this end‚ Aids will be a disaster.
“If we leave these people behind‚ the disease will spread further and further and further. All the hard work on the ground will count for nothing.”
He maintained that “it will be worth it. In the sixties you couldn’t be gay in England. Now I can be married to my partner.”
He ended by encouraging gay South Africans to fight for their own rights as victory is assured at the end.