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Mass same-sex wedding - Knysna

Press Release submitted by Fran Kirsten

Pink fever is running high in Knysna as the town prepares for the 16th Knysna Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Pink Loerie Festival (Pink Loerie) from April 27 – May 1.

In celebration of this milestone, the first-ever African mass same-sex wedding will take place on Friday, April 29 at the luxury Villa Castollini that will provide a breath-taking backdrop of Knysna across its world-renown estuary. “This event promises to be a spectacular affair,” said Pink Loerie coordinator, John-Louis O’Neil and added: “Our couples have been chosen and now all they need to do is pitch up with ten of their family and friends at the most beautiful venue for the wedding reception to top all wedding receptions!”

This year marks the 20 years since the approval of the South African Constitution, the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. It further celebrates the decade in which same-sex marriages has been legalised in South Africa, the only country in Africa.

To add to the significance of all these milestones the first South African LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) couple to legally wed in South Africa, Vernon and Tony Gibbs-Hall will be joining in the mass-wedding ceremony to renew their vows in celebration of their tenth wedding anniversary.

O’Neil expresses his delight at having the Gibbs-Hall couple join in the celebrations. “We as the LGBTI community have fought long and hard to be recognised. Having same-sex marriages legalised in South Africa finally had the country recognise that marriage equality exists for all its citizen is definite cause for celebration and we could not be more pleased that Vernon and Tony have agreed to celebrate their love for each other with us.”

Last year Knysna hosted the prestigious Mr Gay World during the festival and Greg Vogt, Knysna & Partners CEO is delighted that this year’s festival will host another first. “Not only will we be hosting the first mass same-sex wedding in South Africa, but the first in Africa,” he said.

“One of the greatest things about our area is its people and their ease with which they embrace people from different nationalities, cultures, creeds and race. Having the first African LGBTI mass-wedding taking place in our beautiful area just once again proves how we work together to create shared values in a place that so many have chosen to now call home.”

Following the legalities, Knysna’s executive mayor, Georlene Wolmarans will officiate over the unique ceremony. “I am confident that the couples will enjoy each and every moment of the ceremony at our beautiful venue,” said Wolmarans.

In closing O’Neil reiterated: “As we celebrate 16 years of making a mark on the LGBTI community and the ten years of legalising same-sex marriage in our country, we felt it only appropriate to highlight one of the most appreciated and sought-after rights; the right to marriage equality.

“So unpack your feathers, your glitz and your glamour and join us in celebrating our rights during this year’s Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival and of course this wonderful event.”

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