Gay sex ruling bad news for Batswana ‘refugees’ in Canada

01 Jul 2019

With the High Court having decriminalized gay sex, some Batswana who were granted refugee status in that country will have to start looking for another First World country where they can live in comfort.

As Sunday Standard reported two years ago, some Batswana currently living in Canada abused that country’s generosity by claiming that they were being persecuted here at home for being gay and gave as evidence, the section that a three-judge panel ruled as unconstitutional this month. A related group was of straight Batswana who claimed to be gay and were granted asylum on such basis.

Canada has the most generous asylum system of any country in the world and has naturally been subjected to abuse by opportunists from all over the world. Those who qualify for this protection are called “convention refugees” and are defined as “people who are outside their home country or the country where they normally live, and who are unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, such as women or people of a particular sexual orientation.”

The High Court judgement means that no one from Botswana can any longer claim well-founded fear of persecution based on sexual orientation. It also means that in terms of Canadian law, those who sought and were granted refugee status on such basis, no longer qualify for refugee status.

Threat of judicial corporal punishment also qualifies one to claim refugee protection. For centuries, Batswana have used corporal punishment on wrongdoers and to date Botswana is one of the few countries world that retains such punishment. Canada considers this method of punishment to be “cruel and unusual treatment” and its laws extend protection to people who face it. One Motswana man was given refugee protection in Canada because he faced judicial corporal punishment.Sunday Standard learns that another young man from Kgatleng also sought and was granted refugee protection after claiming that he feared he would be circumcised at the indigenous initiation school that was restarted by Kgosi Kgafela II in 2009. What is commonly known as “passion killing” in Botswana also qualifies one for refugee protection in Canada.

There is another group whose own story is even more layered: Namibians from border areas claiming Botswana citizenship and that they have well-founded fear of corporal punishment – which Namibia has banned. With the travesty that was the 1884 Berlin Conference, African families were separated by an artificial geopolitical border. In extreme cases, the new border cut through villages which is why there is Phitsane Molopo in both South Africa and Botswana and why some unscrupulous people in border villages have dual citizenship. According to a source in Canada, when some Namibian youth failed to secure Canadian refugee protection, they went back home, crossed into Botswana and used relatives this side to get Botswana passports. Thus armed, they launched a second and successful attempt to get Canadian refugee protection.