More than 40 South African women took to the streets of Soweto in a “mini pride” march promoted by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, a gay human rights group based in the township.

Holding placards reading “A lesbian with HIV/Aids is still my sister” and “Raping me won’t make me straight” the group marched through the Johannesburg suburb, then listened to a series of speeches. Though a minority of residents objected to the event, it progressed without any serious hindrances.

Although South Africa was the first country in the world to recognise the rights of gay people in its constitution, and even though it is soon to recognise homosexual marriage – making it the first country in Africa to do so, in recent months there has been a slight increase in the rate and severity of homophobic attacks. Earlier this year a young woman was beaten with golf clubs and brick before being stabbed to death by boys in Kayelitsha, a suburb of Cape Town.

South Africa’s Constitution is the first in the world to recognise gay rights and it is poised to become the first African country to recognise homosexual marriage.

“The march is a way to say we’re here to stay. We’re not going to wake up tomorrow and not be gay anymore,” said Ayanda Magudulela from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women.

“Even five years ago this wouldn’t have happened and now here we stand today.”

Photographs of the event which took place on the 23rd of September appeared on the Forum’s website. They show the women laughing and clapping in the bright sunlight. Although the march had a serious and political theme, it was a fun event. One participant even wore a Zulu skirt made out of animal skin, usually worn by male hunters.

The march was part of a calendar of pre Johannesburg pride events which have been taking place throughout the summer. The Pride itself will be held on Saturday.