A number of Government Ministers, current and past, have made statements both in favour and against the subject of LGBTI rights and issues in Botswana. We have also included a few “International” voices.
Ian Khama – President of the Republic of Botswana (2008 – present)
On the subject of same-sex marriage, has stated that he had no problem with homosexuals as long as they “do their things” behind closed doors.
Fetus Mogae – President of the Republic of Botswana (1998 – 2008)
“We do not want to discriminate. Our HIV message applies to everybody. If we are fighting stigma associated with sex, let’s apply it to sexual discrimination in general.”
“I don’t understand it (homosexuality). I am a heterosexual, I look at women. I don’t look at other men. But there are men who look at other men. These are citizens.” (The Telegraph)
He told the British Broadcasting Company that during his 10 years in office, he had instructed police not to arrest or harass gays. “I could not change the law because that would be unnecessarily stirring up a hornet’s nest. I was not willing to lose an election on behalf of the gays. The majority of our people are still opposed [to homosexuality] so I must convince them first before changing the law unilaterally.”
Pono Moatlhodi – Deputy Speaker of the Botswana National Assembly
“I would agree with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who once described that behavior as that of western dogs. I don’t like those gay people and will never tolerate them. They are demonic and evil. When there are so many women in this country, why would anyone choose to have sex with another man? The Bible does not agree with such a thing and therefore it is evil. If we give prisoners condoms, are we are now saying they are free?”
Biggie Butale – Head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana
“Our nation has done well to keep these legally and customarily unacceptable, and we must resist any suggestions that would lead to homosexual marriages in our nation”
Nick Pyle – British High Commissioner (2013 – present)
At the opening of the 13th annual Ditshwanelo Human Rights Film Festival in 2013, the High Commissioner commended the role of Ditshwanelo, Bonela, LeGaBiBo and Rainbow Identity in helping to drive and keep alive the issue of Human Rights in Botswana.
He told the audience that despite Botswana’s remarkable economic, political and social development since 1966, more can be done with regards to the promotion of human rights in the country and that development should be continuous. He said, “It is also important that the Government continues to engage with NGOs and civil society to build consensus on human rights issues. The British Government is prepared to support such efforts where we can and where we are able.”
Desmond Tutu – Archbishop of Cape Town (Retired)
“when we face so many devastating problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and conflict”. [I am] “deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on ‘what do I do in bed with whom'”.
Tutu has lent his name to the fight against homophobia in Africa and around the world. He stated at the launching of the book ‘Sex, Love and Homophobia’ that homophobia is a ‘crime against humanity’ and ‘every bit as unjust’ as apartheid. He added that “we struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the World over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins…It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given.”
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are a part of every human community. I have no doubt that in the future, the laws that criminalise so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way the apartheid laws do to us now—so obviously wrong. Such a terrible waste of human potential… And never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity, you put a smile on God’s face.”
Barack Obama – US President (2009 – present)
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
“People should be treated equally, and that’s a principle that I think applies universally”