What does LGBTI stand for?

Lesbian: A female who is romantically and sexually attacted to other females.

Gay: People attracted to people of the same sex.  Mainly used for males who are sexually attracted to other males.

Bisexual: A male or female who is sexually attracted to person of the same and the opposite sex.

Transgender: A person whose gender identity does not match thier assigned sex.  This does not imply sexual orientation.

Intersex: A person who can not be distinctly identified as male or female due to variations in sex characteristics such as chromosomes, gonads, and/or genitals.

Rainbow Identity are a Botswana based registered organisation covering Transgender & Intersex rights and recognition.

What does Botswana’s Vision 2016 say about LGBTI rights?

Vision 2016 has a number of “Visions” including creating a

Discrimination-free Society:

Greater tolerance and acceptance of differences between people – their religion, language, ethnic background. Indications are that Batswana generally do not feel discriminated against in terms of ‘their freedom to choose what to do with their lives’.

Greater gender sensitivity and equality of opportunities for women, though many women still feel that negative social attitudes towards the status and role of women have not been completely removed from society.

Interestingly, Vision 2016 consider this one of the few areas in which the vision is being realised, however note the absence of sexual orientation specifically being mentioned in both areas.

What does Botswana’s Constitution say about LGBTI rights?

The Constitution does not specifically protect people on sexual orientation.  (see also Law & Constitution)  It states:

Whereas every person in Botswana is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest to each and all of the following, namely—

(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;

(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association; and

(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation, the provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

Has anyone been prosecuted under the anti-gay legislation in Botswana?


What does the Botswana Penal Code say?

Whilst “being” LGBTI is not illegal, the Penal Code defines homosexual sex as an un-natural act and therefore punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment (see also Law & Constitution).

Are any Gay Rights protected under Botswana Law?

Yes – Botswana employment law protects employees from dismissal based on a persons sexual orientation.

The Constitution also protects a number of rights (see Law & Constitution)

What is the church’s view?

Different churches have different views and interpretations.  Some will preach that it is a sin and is condemmed by God.  Others will preach that God loves everyone and all people were create equal and unique.  There is a lot of press given to “anti-gay” protests and preaching especially in some African Nations – noteably Uganda and Zimbabwe and also in some US states.  Take a look at some of these articles and our In Context: Religion to get some differing views on the subject:

Is Homosexuality a Choice?

Most LGBTI people will tell you they never chose to be gay – just like the majority of the population didn’t choose to be straight.  Most will also ask why would I choose to be gay and suffer the persecution, prejudice and abuse from peers, society and in some cases governments.  Some will also tell you that before coming out they often wished they were straight, some continue to do so.  In short – it is NOT a choice.  Some people will choose to experiment – but that doesn’t make them gay.  Some men are straight but like to have sex with men too.  Human sexuality is a complicated subject.  Homosexuality and homosexual sex should also be considered separate issues.  A good consideration is that of homosexual sex in prisons.

Nature Doesn’t Show Homosexuality – just humans so it must be a choice…

There are many examples of homosexual behaviour in nature.  Over 1,500 species have been observed to display homosexual behaiviour.


Is Homosexuality “un-African”?

This is a common argument against removing anti-gay laws or failure to protect gay rights in African nations and there have been a lot of articles written on the subject.  Some claim it was “introduced” during colonial times from Europe.  However, most LGBT people feel that they were born that way and recent scientific research suggests that it could be caused by molecular “switches” in our genes.  With this in mind, perhaps it is more a case of suppression in some nations.  In the modern “Global” village we are exposed to more information, culture and behaiviour and therefore can become more comfortable in ourselves and see we are not the only one and also see that it is OK to be that way in other parts of the World.  Perhaps this explains the apparent “rise” in homosexuality in cultures where it is not “normally” seen.  Take a look at some of these articles: