Gov’t succumbs to Church pressure against LGBTIQ+ rights

Members of Evangelical Fellowship Botswana (EFB) marched to Parliament PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Members of Evangelical Fellowship Botswana (EFB) marched to Parliament PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

Following pressure from the Church, government has finally bowed down by deferring the homosexuality bill to allow for intensive interrogation of the constitutional issues raised by the former.

Minister of Justice Machana Shamukuni announced today in Parliament that he has deferred the Panel Code Amendment Bill No.29 of 2022 to allow for a rigorous examination of the constitutional issues raised with his ministry regarding the bill before it could be debated in Parliament.

A fortnight ago, members of the Evangelical Fellowship Botswana (EFB) made public demonstrations and marched against decriminalising same-sex relations and their efforts paid dividends.

“I, therefore, seek to satisfy myself that the views and concerns of all stakeholders about the interpretation of the Constitution are considered and that the provision of the revision of law Acts have been thoroughly interrogated, Shamukuni told Parly. He said to Parliament that his ministry would like to take its time dealing with the delicate matter so that various views are considered.

The object of the bill is to amend Section 164(a) and (c) of the Penal Code (Cap. 08:01), which criminalises carnal knowledge between two adults against the order of nature. Section 164(a) and (c) was declared unconstitutional in the case of the Attorney General and Letsweletse Motshidiemang, Court of Appeal's Civil Appeal No. CACGB-157-19.

The CoA in 2021 decriminalised consensual sex between same-sex partners and found that the Penal Code provisions violated the right to privacy, the right to liberty, security of person, equal protection under the law, and the right to freedom from discrimination.

Even though this was a landmark victory for the LGBTIQ+ community, a draft of the above bill, which was intended to be presented to the National Assembly according to the EFB will open floodgates of immorality as it seeks to legalise homosexuality.

Shamukuni’s bill deferral comes after EFB drew up a petition against the amendment saying it will only open a can of worms. “We believe that if the Parliament is to act as required by the Bill, such an action will open floodgates of immorality, abomination in the nation such as same-sex marriage, change school curriculum to teach our children such practices,” EFB’s Pastor Pulafela Siele said at the anti-gay protest.

Pastor Siele also highlighted that if the bill is acceded to it will only impede procreation and will only be an insult to the Holy Bible as it goes against same-sex relationships. Meanwhile, people of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQI) community will have no choice but to wait for the bill to be debated in Parliament. LEGABIBO CEO Thato Moruti recently indicated that they remain resolute in the decisions by the courts declaring the unconstitutionality of Section 164(a) and (c) on November 29, 2021.

He called on legislators not to take decisions that would second-guess the courts. “We worry that religion and faith are being weaponised to distort the message of the Church which is to encourage love and restoration. We beseech the Church institution in Botswana to remember Matthew 22:37–39: 'Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’,” Moruti said. Moruti added that people need not lose sight of this and therefore refrain from being coerced and misled by Christian fundamentalism that has caused hatred and bullying to disregard human rights protection.

Editor's Comment
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