Identifying Injustice: Decriminalization of Section 164

Are you wondering why YOU need to come to the table and engage in talks to repeal Section 164 of the Botswana Penal Code?

Botswana’s Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms of every person in Botswana, which includes LGBTI persons.

Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is not a crime in Botswana. However, two provisions in the Penal code of 1964 criminalizes same-sex sexual practices. Section 164 (a) and (c) classifies sexual acts between same sex couples as ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ to which the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding seven years. Section 167 of the Penal code also terms same-sex sexual practices as acts of gross indecency regardless of where it happens (private or public).

  1. Criminalization strips LGBT of their dignity to live holistic lives as human beings; it strips us of the dignity enshrined in the right to privacy.
  2. Criminalization works against working solutions to achieve HIV programming goals for Key Populations identified by WHO, UNAIDS and the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness. The continued criminalization of consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex is an onerous legal barrier in the context of HIV, diminishing access to health and HIV related services for LGBT persons in Botswana.
  3. LGBTI risk being arrested and imprisoned, violent encounters, abuse of all forms, stigmatization because perpetrators have criminalizing laws on their side. It leads to victimization and societal marginalization of already vulnerable populations, including LGBT persons, women who sex with women (WSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) by perpetuating stigma, violence, harassment, blackmail and discrimination.
  4. Stigmatization and marginalization of LGBT people go unpunished, thus reinforcing prejudice from the public and service providers.
  5. The shame and humiliation of LGBT experiences in the media, public spaces, homes, work places and school settings is supported and reinforced by criminalization.
  6. Criminalization impairs development and poverty reduction. It hinders homosexuals to be players and competitors in the economy and work spaces.
  7. Criminalization results in LGBT living in constant fear of arrest, harassment, detention, prosecution, blackmail, extortion and conviction and surveillance.
  8. Criminalization makes LGBT people outlaws leaving no space both in public and private where people can simply be themselves.
  9. Criminalization denies us freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and freedom prosecution.
  10. Our equality before the law and equal protection of the law is infringed by Section 164 of the Botswana Penal Code.

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By: LEGABIBO

For more information, please contact LEGABIBO on +267 317 74 25.

Heterosexual Involvement is Crucial in the Discourse of Sexual Diversity

By: @Boemo Phirinyane

Over the past few decades, homosexuality has moved from the margins of society to the mainstream. Even though some homosexuals have not come out of the closet, the issue of homosexuality has. The right to existence and self-determination is crucial for any group. Throughout the course of human civilization, oppressed groups have been in a constant fight to gain independence and recognition, from the fall of slavery to the end of colonialism. Human rights groups have been lobbying for legislative reform by governments across the world to legally accept homosexuals. Perhaps in this struggle, we have come across as being antagonistic to the already existing and dominant narrative of heterosexuality, which by far is the universally accepted form of sexual orientation. In the direction the world is taking, it is now time for the heterosexual group to recognize that their involvement is the discourse of sexual liberation is crucial.

Where exactly should the focal point be?

The lack of a focal point has downplayed the essence of homosexuality and reduced it to bigoted opinions and myths that have allowed the oppression of the LGBTI group to persist. Obviously homosexuality involves sex, but sex is really just a small part of homosexuality. Certainly there is sexual attraction but the larger issue is the emotional need of the person seeking sexual experience from someone of the same gender. A person seeking a homosexual experience is often looking for love, affirmation and acceptance. These are legitimate desires any human being is entitled to but somehow we seem to have only reserved this to heterosexuals.

Just like any other struggle of acceptance there must be a focal point, for slavery to fall, the discourse had to move to ‘‘black people exist and deserve to be granted access to full human rights that their white counterparts were already enjoying’’. The focal point must always lie not on denying the existence of a group but on how well to integrate them into the greater society. At this point it’s no longer a valuable argument to try and deny the LGBTI their basic human rights because we are still trying to solve the equation of what triggers one to be gay. The question is and must be how well we defend individual rights and liberties in a modern society. From there on we can be able to integrate any minority group that seeks liberation and recognition because the old and corrosive narratives that oppress individuals for benefit of society no longer apply.

Beyond Legal Recognition, Social Acceptance Is Crucial

Though it is now becoming a moral and public policy issue, beyond the existence of a legal framework, the real driving force behind stimulation of acceptance solely lies in the society itself (in most cases those in the majority) as they hold the necessary political capital to ensure that people are receptive to change. They control be it institutions that shape public opinion and have massive influence, they are crucial in that regard.

 

LGBTI must be integrated into social structures if we are to form a more inclusive and progressive society, and the only way to do so must not and cannot be through a court order but social buy in. Social narratives that are shaped only through imposition of legislation often at times have catastrophic ramifications as they are met with resistance.

Societies across the world are now starting to see the need for inclusion as they realize that the opportunity cost of that is being cruel and inhumane. The pictures of gross abuse and violation coming out of Chechnya are not easy to ignore  as they question the heterosexuals to join the course not only in condemning but seeing the need to grant all the right to align with any sexuality of their choice.

That can be consolidated in the thoughts of Owen Jones ‘‘Being Gay is regarded as the most sinful corruption of manliness. The Chechen prosecutors may not flinch as they break bones because they see them as a mortal threat to their own sense of masculinity’’

Role of Religious Institutions in the Course

This is one thought that never crosses the mind of most people that a church has a crucial role to play in the course of sexual liberation and diversity. This is because as Owen Jones argues being gay is regarded as the most sinful corruption of manliness. The onslaught of coverage makes homosexuality seem merely like another lifestyle. The purpose of engaging the church and religious institutions is to wear down those who have moral and religious objections.

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen argue that ‘‘while public opinion is one primary source of mainstream values, religious authority is another’’. In progressive and inclusive societies, many liberal churches and denominations have been more than willing to publicly support gay and homosexual rights. The Episcopal Church of USA, United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran Church have been at the forefront of this worthy course. This has been able to advance the rights and social acceptance of homosexuals. It has successfully managed to muddy the moral waters of gender and sexual orientation.

In ending, the successful defense of basic human rights for everyone regardless of their religion, race, and gender might seem like a foregone conclusion, but it is one of the long standing struggles that those who are  privileged  to not be going through overlook especially in the context of sexual orientation. But the truth of the matter is, we are all not free until the LGBTI is because when it comes to human dignity, we can’t make any compromises.

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NOTE: This article was first published in the Botswana Guardian

PRESS RELEASE: 2017 IDAHOT

To: All Media Houses

From: The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana

Date: 11 May 2017

RE: 2017 International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – IDAHOT

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – IDAHOT, is one of the most important dates to mobilize communities to protect, promote and defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. The date was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990. It removed homosexuality as a formal psychiatric diagnosis in 1992. IDAHOT is commemorated every year on the 17th May across the world.

The theme for the 2017 IDAHOT focuses on FAMILY. The role of families in the well-being of their LGBTI family members and the respect of the rights of LGBTI families (rainbow families). We hope that this year’s theme will:

– Strengthen the visibility and voice of LGBTI parents.

– Strengthen the visibility and voice of Rainbow families that would advance the recognition and rights of LGBTI persons.

– Strengthen the visibility, voice and support for children and relatives of LGBTI persons and creating a socially inclusive and non-discriminatory society

– Reclaim “family values” such as Botho; to progressively understand the need for humanity towards addressing LGBTI rights issues and those around them.

The Botswana community is very family oriented and all traditional gatherings and celebrations involves families. Family contributes to the core fiber of our being and existence. They are our source of love, protection and comfort. It is where tradition, norms and values are passed on from one generation to the next.

For many LGBTI in Botswana, the same cannot be said about this sentiment. Being an LGBTI person is still an enormous battle – it is emotionally draining, physically straining and economically challenging and contributes to various inner and outward conflicts in the daily lives of those in these situations. Working with the LGBTI community over the years has revealed that the family still needs a lot of awareness and understanding on diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity and the challenges faced by the LGBTI community.

We encourage Batswana to recognise that families are different and interact with one another differently. We have blended families, extended families, single parent families and even same – sex families. It is important that we support, accept, love and protect our LGBTI family members and at the same time extend this very same support, acceptance, love and protection to the family members of LGBTI individuals. It is imperative that the rights and well-being of LGBTI are recognised and respected by the family and the society at large.

We celebrate and acknowledge the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, other family members and friends who have stood proud to be champions of LGBTI human rights and continue to pledge their support and love to us. Le kamoso!

For further information, please contact Bradley Fortuin on +267 316 74 25 or dblfortuin@gmail.com.

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Happy Holy Homosexual

By: @Chantel Fortuin

We have witnessed and heard, we are still witnessing and hearing how some people, in this case people who identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer – LGBTIQ, struggle to come to terms with their sexual and gender identity and reconciling this with their identity as religious persons. At the core of this struggle are the messages and actions of religious leaders; folks in the temples, mosques, basilicas, chapels and houses of worship, and the society at large (I include society because society is influenced by religion and culture) who spew and spit out messages of dogmatism and prejudice and negatively impact the lives of sexual minorities.

There is no telling how much damage has been done to queer people of religious inclination by members of their spiritual communities but there is no denying that the effects are devastating, one of which is the disconnection and severing of ties from the source of life, and in some instances to the self. When he was interviewed, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he would choose hell over a homophobic God; what he was trying to emphasis was the spirit of Ubuntu/botho– that I am, therefore we are. Mother Teresa further stresses this point when she said “when you judge people, you have no time to love them,” and indeed her words are a manifestation of what many of the LGBTIQ persons are going through. Many religions, societies and communities regrettably, for the longest time, have chosen judgment and in the wake of this decision have left brokenness, destruction and disconnection.

This said, I have a message for the LGBTIQ community, homophobic religious leaders and the communities who stand by and watch! For the elders in the religious domain; the common theology is that everyone is intended to be a representative or image of God (imago Dei). Race, sexuality or gender identity, does not exclude, anyone from being in God’s image and it is within this differences that we ought to acknowledge and appreciate, God’s limitlessness and diversity. Frankly put, to interpret the bible literally is what is causing many problems for the church today. We are trying to imitate, a time that has no relevance to the lives people lead today. Please do not misunderstand me, the message of the gospel does not change over time, it remains constant and unwavering but if we fail to understand and extract the initial envisioned message of the biblical teachings (a case in point would be the story of Sodom and Gomorra), then we produce an ideological, unrelatable and insular product that becomes unchallengeable ‘truth’ and results in this business of ‘but the bible says,’ and that ‘homosexuality is un-African’ without any form of engagement or interrogation. I plead with religious elders and leaders to enlighten themselves and their flock of followers on the true intent of religious tenets; love, not hate. Just look at what happened in the era of apartheid and slavery, it was only when the people educated themselves and became conscious of their oppression that they stood up for themselves and then were liberated.  We need this consciousness of the effects of our teachings on people’s lives; stop forcing people to live pretentious lives instead of encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves. How else can you understand or comprehend that diversity in creation does exist and this is the beauty of the maker. Stop depriving people of a peaceful, joyous and an authentic spiritual connection, to the source of all life just because you do not understand and do not take the time to seek understanding.

To the LGBTIQ community; all supreme powers are big on authenticity, and it is only in your authentic vessel, that communication with the source of life becomes clear. We have heard too many stories of people trying to pray the gay away, with no success, and because we so badly want to fit in, we either, live ostentatious lives or elect to stray away from and disconnect with our Creator; God and eventually lose our faith.  By so doing we fall into, the stereotype trap of apparently being promiscuous and unruly, which is then used as ‘proof’ of just how immoral we are. All humans have an intricate inclination to that which they consider greater, and detaching from any sort of spiritual connection makes one feel incomplete. It is important to understand that, you cannot always consume everything you are fed in terms of teachings of the message of God without seeking your own truth. God is not against you learning and educating the self, that is why we have been awarded brains which allow for reasoning and questioning. The LGBTIQ community has to reach a point where, liberating themselves becomes their mandate. They must remember the African proverb that until the lion writes its own story, the hunter will always be the hero.  Stop being apologetic about who you are. Just like the rest of God’s creation, only God can truly answer and fully explain his creation.

And finally, to the masses who just stand by and watch injustices take place; your silence will not protect you.

With that said I pray therefore that, the source of life plants and nurtures the seeds of understanding, reconciliation, fellowship and love in all of your hearts.  Amen!

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I HAVE A CONFESSION

By: @Tanlume Enyatseng

I HAVE A CONFESSION: I LOVE DORKS. And misfits. And weirdos.  All my crushes tend to be lanky, angst-y boys with great one-liners and a variety of mood disorders. Tortured geniuses are another weak spot for me. Show me a muscle-bound male model, and I will turn my head towards a bespectacled, skinny, and socially awkward boy instead. I’d take Clark Kent over Superman any day.

My first love was a total nerd. I was 14 years old and very impressed by his knowledge of conscious rap, his assortment of Bruce Lee memorabilia, and his extensive action-figure collection. The second guy that wasted my time had greasy, black dreads, a goatee and he possessed an unhealthy interest in biblical apocalypse theories. He could also quote lines from Home Alone at will.

As I got older, my friends were all into the good-looking jock types (you know, the ones who looked like they could lift you up with their one thumb), while I was swooning over boys who haunted the neighborhood bars of Gaborone west. My heart would leap into my mouth every time one of those effeminate, unassuming oddballs met my open-mouthed stare. My palms would break out in a sweat when one of them ventured timidly onto the dance floor, doing a self-conscious shuffle with his gangly limbs.

I tend to pine for boys who have the shy charm of Donald Glover, the wit of Woody Allen, and the looks of Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl (who, with his love of Rainer Maria Rilke and old Belgium films, won me over far more than blue-eyed jock Nate Archibald). After repeatedly watching 2001 cult classic Ghost World, I’ve come to the conclusion that I would definitely fall for Steve Buscemi in his role as hapless, obsessive, record-collecting loner Seymour. One of the most depressing geeks ever to light up the screen.

I prefer interesting conversation over toned biceps–there’s something very appealing about a man who can overcompensate in the brain department. And these guys don’t take you for granted: When you’re a little wimpy and dressed in a Microsoft T-shirt, you have to work harder at getting romantic attention. More especially in the increasingly image obsessed gay community. Looks alone won’t cut it, so perhaps their sweetness and computer literacy will. In the end, most of us just seem to want someone who can be self-deprecating, someone who knows his shit and isn’t hiding behind a clichéd macho front. Nerds are the lovable mavericks of an overbearingly masculine society that is driven by old-fashioned ideals. These Star Trek-loving, Spielberg-quoting, chunky spectacles-wearing guys are the true catches.

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Tanlume

LeGaBiBo Launches Book

On Friday, 23rd September, LeGaBiBo once again made history! The organisation launched its first edition of Dipolelo Tsa Rona booklet. The booklet is a collection of 10 LGBTI stories from across Botswana. The stories tell experiences of love, hate, coming out and hope. It also explores lived experiences of LGBTI persons in our communities.

The event was attended by the LGBTI community, LeGaBiBo friends and partners. The Deputy High Commissioner for the British High Commission to Botswana, H.E. Mr. Oliver Richards commended the work that LeGaBiBo has been doing in advancing LGBTI rights in Botswana. He we added that “to advance human rights is to seek to build a society where no one is left behind and to make space in that for difference. We are, after all, all different”.

The Dipolelo Tsa Rona can be obtained at the LeGaBiBo offices in Block 8, Gaborone. A soft copy can be downloaded here. We hope that you will enjoy the book, and do let us know what you think.

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Botswana Government Deports Pastor Anderson

Press Statement

To: All Media Houses

From: The Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana – LEGABIBO

Date: 20 September 2016

RE: DEPORTATION OF PASTOR STEVEN ANDERSON

The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) accompanied by Reverend Dumi Mmualefe on the 15th of September 2016 submitted a petition signed by 2 317 people to the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Hon. Edwin Batshu requesting that Pastor Steven Anderson and his associate, Garret Kirchway not be allowed into Botswana to start a church in the country.

  1. The Honourable Minister Batshu gave us audience and accepted the contents of the petition.

 

  1. The Minister and his delegation informed us that they were aware of Pastor Anderson’s visit to Botswana.

 

  1. Batshu said that as an American citizen, Pastor Anderson does not require a VISA to enter Botswana but because of his history, the Pastor would be put on a VISA lease to ensure that Immigration officials are aware of his presence.

 

  1. He also assured us that measures would be put in place to ensure that Anderson’s movements and his teachings do not infringe existing laws that prohibit hate, discrimination and incitement of violence.

However, a few hours after the meeting, we learned that Pastor Anderson had arrived in the country. We alerted the Ministry of this new development and collaboratively monitored the location of his church, teachings, social media and the impact his messaging had on the people he reached.

On the 19th of September we received a report from an individual who attended his church service that he had been assaulted by the Pastor, who called him “a fag, a homosexual and with a mouth full of AIDS” and was forcefully and violently dragged out of the church, an incident that the Pastor later admitted on radio.

On the 20th September 2016 from 0600hrs to 0900hrs, Caine Youngman, Reverend Mampane and the Pastor went live on radio, on Breakfast with Reg on GABZ FM, to dialogue on his visit to Botswana, his supposed mission to “win souls” and rid our country of sin. During the interview, the Pastor:

  1. Stated that he has diagnosed that the biggest sin in Botswana is alcoholism and that our Pastors in Botswana have softened, calling them “a bunch of sissies” and do not preach against such ills.
  2. Condemned versions of the bible that are not King James version calling them “junk”.
  3. Publicly called Caine Youngman, LEGABIBO Advocacy Officer “a paedophile, a liar, he has sex with little boys and strangers and if you have not done it yet, you will do it in future”.
  4. Stated that homosexual persons cannot be saved and that our government should kill all homosexual persons.

Following these utterance, Pastor Anderson was escorted by Immigration officials out of the premises and we later learned that he had been declared a prohibited immigrant by the Botswana Government.

LEGABIBO is outraged by the insults hurled at Caine Youngman and the LGBT community in Botswana, and wish we could have prevented this from happening from the outset. We are also happy that the Government of Botswana took necessary action and deported the Pastor and in the process defended its citizens. We applaud the people of Botswana who have stood with us to protect, defend and promote human rights in our country.

For more information, contact LEGABIBO on +267 316 74 25

Steve