Botswana is discouraging countries wishing to assign diplomats to their embassies in Gaborone from posting same sex couples and has on several occasions refused to accredit partners of American and European homosexual diplomats ÔÇô secret WikiLeaks cables have revealed.
In one incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to issue an exemption certificate (the diplomatic residency permit) for the adopted child of a gay American Embassy diplomat. According to a cable by former US Ambassador to Botswana Stephen Nolan, the issue was raised with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Phandu Skelemani and the Attorney General (AG), Athaliah Molokomme to no avail.
During one of the meetings Minister Skelemani stated that President Khama had been briefed on the issue, Molokomme however recommended that the permit should not be issued. The Minister promised to discuss the matter further with President Khama and the Attorney General to try to get the residency permit issued. The American ambassador revealed that in subsequent meetings he framed the issue as Botswana failing to recognize legal documents of the United States. “The irony of this situation is that both our employee and his partner have already been issued residency documents, so the GOB has in essence agreed to the residency of this gay couple.”
Chief of Protocol in the Office of the President, Ms. Daphne Kadiwa, who was speaking confidentially, told the American Ambassador that “it is primarily an issue of law and precedent precipitated by having both men listed on the child’s birth certificate. According to Kadiwa, Botswana had already discouraged three other European diplomatic missions from assigning same-sex couples to Botswana. In his secret cable to Washington, Ambassador Nolan asked for “a Diplomatic Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs complaining about the lengthy delay in issuance of a residency permit to the child of a U.S. Diplomat.
Additionally, as it is possible that President Khama may well decide to refuse to issue the residence permit, post would like advice from Washington on possible responses to this outcome, such as possible talking points for a potential call on President Khama.” A year later in 2010, Ambassador Nolan again raised the issue of accreditation of same-sex domestic partners of U.S. government personnel with a senior aide to President Khama. The aide explained that Botswana remains a very traditional society and homosexuality is an extremely sensitive subject. She noted that the GOB would likely not/not be amenable to accrediting same sex domestic partners, since this would represent a direct challenge to Botswana’s culture and laws.
“We understand that Botswana has on several occasions turned down applications by European diplomatic missions for accreditations of same-sex domestic partners of their staff.” The aide said that Botswana has, in effect, a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on same sex personnel, and although the GOB would not accredit a same-sex partner as a diplomatic family member, the GOB would not object to the partner’s residency as long as the partner applied through separate channels and has an independent work-related reason to be in Botswana (the case of one of our Mission families).