Bonela responds to the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana on the issue of homosexuality in Botswana

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS and an informal group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) named LEGABIBO condemn the discriminatory and hurtful views of the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana on the issue of homosexuality in Botswana.

We therefore wish to reiterate our position on LGBT rights. BONELA stands by its views that human rights are inherent in every human being regardless of their gender, gender identity, race, HIV status and sexual orientation.While BONELA respects the views of all citizens of Botswana and the debatable position of Christianity regarding homosexuality, we strongly challenge and detest the perpetuation of intolerance, discrimination and disruption of peace based on religious fundamentalism. Even with the existence of gay and lesbian people in our culture, Botswana has been a peaceful nation for several decades, upholding the ideals of human rights and Botho.  The views of the EFB will only bring and justify violence, instability and insecurity for all Batswana. We have seen the effects of such views in countries such as Uganda and Nigeria where the Evangelical movement has been alleged to be the initiators of the Kill the Gays Bill, a bill intended to ensure the arrests and persecution of gay and lesbian people and their families in those countries. We hope that this is not the beginning of the same phenomena and Batswana would continue to vehemently oppose this level of extremism in the name of God.

The Botswana government should be congratulated for the positive strides she has made in tackling issues of homosexuality. The 2010 Amendment of the Employment Act to include sexual orientation in the anti- discrimination clause is highly celebrated by gay and lesbian people and their families in Botswana. Further, we welcome the government’s view during its Universal Periodical Review during the Human Rights Council that educational campaigns are necessary to raise awareness of gay and lesbian issues in Botswana. Parliamentarians should not be held at ransom and encouraged to adopt homophobic positions by views such as those expressed by the EFB. The role of parliamentarians is to ensure that  they pass laws that protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. This is the guiding principle in all democratic dispensations. It is essential that law and policy makers and enforcers have access to appropriate and scientifically accurate information on homosexuality in order to enact legislation from a human rights perspective.

We would like to call upon the public to reject and condemn EFB’s assault on human rights and undermining of the laws and Constitution of Botswana. We encourage Parliamentarians to continue to uphold the human rights of all people by enacting laws that protect minorities. All cultural, religious and secular institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations have the moral responsibility to ensure that their actions and perspectives do not give rise to societal and political instability and possibly result in the victimization and violation of Batswana.

Uyapo Ndadi – Director of BONELA

http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=1&aid=48&dir=2013/August/Friday16

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