Overwhelmed by the country’s discriminatory laws and the mounting public opinion against their sexual orientation, Botswana gays and lesbians will next week go for broke as they make a debut in joining the world in celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia.
Globally commemorated annually every May 17th, Botswana gays and lesbians would in the past not take part in the celebrations, only expressing a wish to do so in the future.
But the latest criticisms, worse still, coming from political figures, leveled against their practice, appears to have crystallized their desire to be part of the landmark celebrations.
“For the first time, Botswana gays and lesbians will come out of the shadows to join the world in commemorating the international day against homophobia.
The march will start from Notwane Grounds to the Main Mall,” said self-confessed gay activist, Caine Youngman.
An employee of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, a non-governmental organization which, among others, deals with human rights issues, Youngman says the mounting and disturbing remarks, especially emanating from the top leadership, in the likes of legislator Pono Moatlhodi and Pastor Biggie Butale, cemented their long time wish to take part in the universal march to make their voices be heard.
“We have long wished to take part in this annual event, celebrated world wide by gays and lesbians, but the disturbing words coming from our leaders such as Motlhodi and Butale cemented our dreams in taking part in the event,” he declared.
Barred and feeling discriminated by the practice, Youngman has already approached the High Court over what he terms “discriminatory tendencies by our archaic constitution” and the case is to be decided in the next few months.
Conducted under the theme ‘Same Sex Couple, A Story Of Love’, the event next Tuesday is expected “to show those in the likes of Moatlhodi and Butale” that homosexuality lives and, as such, those subscribing to the practice should not be sidelined, he said.
“We have tried to solicit attendance from across all political groupings, particularly that our organization is apolitical and we will be grateful that they attend the celebrations,” Youngman said, adding that they expected scores of gays and lesbians to attend in great numbers.
Moathodi, the Tonota South MP and Deputy Speaker, rubbed the homosexuals the wrong way when he rubbished the practice, condemning them to death for “their bizarre sexual orientation”.
“If I had power, I would have those who practice homosexuality killed. On this point I agree with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who once described homosexuals as worse than dogs; I don’t like those gay people and will never tolerate them. They are demonic and evil,” he said at a meeting organized by BONELA to discuss ways to thwart the escalating incidences of sexual diseases rampant at in prison cells; something that gay lobbyists argued vindicates their sentiments that homosexuality exists.
“With so many women in the country…”, Moatlhodi was puzzled as to why someone would choose to have sex with another man, saying even the Bible does not agree with such a thing and, therefore, “it is evil”.
The legislator insisted that to give prisoners condoms would be tantamount to legalising homosexuality, saying inmates should learn that by choosing to break the law they imprisoned themselves and, as such, are responsible for starving themselves of sex.
For his part, Butale poked the homosexuals in the eye when he labeled the practice a disintegration of “our cultural and traditional norms, which should be jealously guarded against “those who do not have the interest of the nation at heart”.