TO: All Media Houses
FROM: The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana – LEGABIBO
DATE: 9 May 2016
RE: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – IDAHOT 2016 Commemorations
The 17th May commemorates the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). The event, billed as a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversity, commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In the past, IDAHOT has been celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex intimacy is illegal. Over the past years, the Botswana LGBTI community have been commemorating this historic event and have been supported by the community at large.
This year’s theme is dubbed “Mental Health and Wellbeing”. It is also important to take into account that even in societies which have officially moved away from the pathologisation of sexual orientation and gender identity, the assumption that same-sex attraction and gender expressions are mental illnesses remains one of the main underlying drivers of social stigmatization and exclusion of sexual and gender minorities, even when it is not explicit or even unconscious. In Botswana, there is still the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’. LGBT are often taken to churches to be ‘exorcised’ as they are referred to as ‘ditlhodi’ by society. The religious community also has shared views that LGBTI communities are possessed by demons therefore there is a need to ‘pray the gay in them away’. Lesbian women are forced to endure what is deemed as ‘correctional rape’ by members of their families and the society with the intention to ‘turn them into normal women’. They are subjected to countless volumes of homophobic slurs and are even labelled as ‘mentally unstable and confused’, they are often referred to as ‘dirty and unclean creatures’. These factors often lead the LGBT to isolation, depression, loneliness, even suicide. LGBT end up engaging in substance abuse and even end up cutting themselves as a result of coping with the homophobia that they endure often.
In order to achieve sound mental health and wellbeing, one has to be assured of a protected environment that not only offers legal recognition but a social conducive environment that is non-discriminatory and is stigma free. Fundamental human rights and the Constitution of Botswana recognizes LGBTI people as persons and ensures protection from torture and inhumane treatment. This is why LEGABIBO as human rights defenders use IDAHOT as a platform to raise awareness and advocate for the LGBTI community’s wellbeing.
As part of this year’s commemorations, LEGABIBO and the LGBTI community and its allies have lined up a series of events.
- Social media engagement: We will engage on the theme on social media with the community as part of the celebrations. We will have video recorded messages on social media from Batswana pertaining to the theme of Mental Health and Wellbeing.
- Film screening and open dialogue: will also conduct a film screening and dialogue. We will have representatives from Boitekanelo College, Religious leaders and from the LGBTI community who will be a part of the panelists. This will take place at the University of Botswana library auditorium on 17th May 2016 from 5:30pm – 8pm.
- Radio Jingle: we will have a radio jingle on Yarona FM talking about Mental Health and Wellbeing of the LGBTI. The advert will start running on the 19th May for 4 weeks.
- Song and Dance Artivism: We will have the LGBT display their talents in form of music, drama, poetry and dance. LEGABIBO will also have an information stall present with information on LEGABIBO, IDAHOT and the LGBTI in Botswana
We do encourage we everyone to come and support us in all these different platforms. For further information, please contact Bradley Fortuin or Botho Maruatona on +267 316 7425 or 71340794