Open letter to Hon Batshu
Monday, 30 April, 2012Minister Batshu. The lesbians, gays, transgendered, bisexuals and intersexed movement in Botswana and beyond, is shocked and disappointed, yet again.
The movement is taken aback by the Registrar of Societies office to refuse, for the second time, to register LEGABIBO. The reasons given are that the Constitution of Botswana does not recognize homosexuals. Furthermore, we are told that your officers turned down LEGABIBO’s registration for the reason that its objects are likely to be for an unlawful purpose. I am at a loss as to where in the Constitution of Botswana homosexuality is specifically or remotely prohibited. I am also yet to come across a law that says homosexuality is illegal or unlawful.
Honourable Minister, perhaps the name LEGABIBO scared your officers and thus turned a blind eye to the objectives and made assumptions that LEGABIBO is going to promote gay sex. Yes, gay sex! The law only deals with sex that is against the order of nature. There is no mention of promoting or aiding unnatural sex in the LEGABIBO application.
The objectives are simply for a human rights based approach in developing health and social programmes and to sensitize the society, law enforcement officers, health care workers and teachers about human rights to prevent stigma and discrimination against the non-heterosexuals community.
These noble objectives, Rre Batshu, are not surprising or disturbing for they are in line with the government’s actions, laws and practices. Just to give you a few examples;
a) The Draft Botswana HIV and AIDS Policy acknowledges homosexuality and urges that homosexuals be taken on board in the response to HIV and AIDS.
b) The Employment Act, which your office is a custodian of, prescribes that no one should be dismissed from work on the basis of their sexual orientation. This is the highest acknowledgement of our parliament and government that we have diverse sexual orientation in Botswana. Are your officers alive to this? Evidently No! Perhaps they are clinging on to the past and hoping that homosexuality will die away. Or they simple just do not care.
c) The National AIDS Council, to which your ministry is a member of, has previously, invited BONELA to present on a study of Men who have Sex with Men prevalence to HIV and further called on government to decriminalize homosexuality. Note Honourable Minister that decriminalizing is a further away step from what LEGABIBO is asking for. LEGABIBO is not asking to change the law but merely saying recognize us. The message from your officers is that we are okay with LEGABIBO for as long as it remains an underground movement.
I do not wish to engage you on whether being gay is a good or bad thing. Doing so will be a waste of time as no society in the world unanimously agree on this subject. However, I am persuaded to say I agree with the President Rre Khama that being gay is a private matter. With President Khama’s thoughts in mind we should not really have difficulties with leaving like-minded people to assemble and associate on issues that are at the heart of their privacy and existence. If we can allow organizations that are set up to challenge our laws such abortion, marital rape and capital punishment to exist, why can’t we allow an organization that seeks to do advocacy and education such as LEGABIBO?
Registering LEGABIBO will yield better returns for Botswana. Batswana in line with Vision 2016 pillar of an educated nation will be educated on human rights by the movement and make informed decisions and arguments on whether to decriminalize homosexuality as demanded by the National AIDS Council chaired by the Former President Mr. Mogae.
Lastly, LEGABIBO is not creating or turning anyone into homosexuality, if it were, I would have long been its success story. Kindly therefore intervene and accord LEGABIBO legal recognition.