I must first start by stating that, I am heterosexual, I look at women. I don’t look at other Men. I am not gay. But I have come to accept that there are men who look at other men.
It is a well-known fact that there have been recent calls for the adoption and acceptance for global appetite to sodomize nation states through the introduction of various outreach advocacy global agencies. In Botswana, homosexuality has been illegal since the late 1800s, when the territory, then known as Bechuanaland, was under British rule. Section 164 of the country’s penal code outlaws “unnatural offenses,” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.
The Global Commission on HIV/AIDS and Law has in the past years started conversations that are often perceived as a taboo and highly sensitive in African culture and custom. They called for explicit decriminalization of sodomy and have shown sympathy to Men who have sex with other Men. Spearheading the initiative in Africa is the “Champions of HIV and AIDS, with former president Festus G Mogae responsible for the Botswana chapter.
Then In 2011 former President Festus G Mogae shocked the nation when he first presented the views of the Global Commission on HIV and AIDS and Law at NAC meeting, by calling for the decriminalization of sodomy in Botswana. Many people were left in a state of shock because culturally issues of sodomy are looked at with great disgust and shame. Even, as he was sharing the Global Commission’ on HIV and AIDS’s views, Mogae was not convincing.
According to Mogae, he was now comfortable to advocate for decriminalization of gays, something he could not risk doing during his tenure in office. In his interview with Omar Ben Yedder in 2010, Mogae stated he was now free to say things that he would have never said as President because (as president) there would be political implication. “He could not have afforded to lose elections “just for gays,” he said.
In responding to Mogae’s comments, Eusebius McKaiser remarked that he found ‘Mogae’s attitude deeply immoral’. To which Mogae defended his actions on the basis that he ruled in a democracy and could only do what was acceptable to the majority, Mail Guardian 14th March 2011.
Mogae’s comments were also criticized by the late Log Raditlhokwa who responded by stating that Mogae’s actions were carnally minded and not being spiritually sensitive (Mid-week Sun of the 19th October 2011).
The recent Behavioral and Biological Surveillance of HIV/STI in Botswana, shows an explosive rate of Men who have sex with other Men. The findings show that these Men are doing it for money, A third of all the men having sex with other men according to the report said they had disclosed their sexual identity to their families. Most of those who disclosed said their families had since accepted and they were enjoying the support. The report also found that the sexual identity of men having sex with other men was split halfway between bisexual and homosexual. Gaborone men identify mostly as homosexual while most men in Francistown, Maun and Chobe identify as bisexual. Most of the men having sex with other men are in a relationship with a boyfriend.
It would be interesting to know if the study also covered married Men and Women and reveal how many of the married Men are involved in the practice of Sex with other Men (Female Husbands) and how many women do the same with the lesbian partners.
In June 2019, Botswana overturned colonial era laws which criminalized homosexuality, with the Judge, Michael Leburu, declaring that “the anti -sodomy laws are a British import” and were developed without the consultation of local peoples. It was viewed as a massive success and a historic moment across the continent. African nations have begun to confront the issue of homosexuality Conversations are ongoing regarding this topic as to why Africa still maintain their anti-LGBT stance. Is homosexuality, rather than homophobia a “Western Import” as claimed by Yoweri Museveni. On the flip side, questions have been asked that why is that the West look at “Polygamy” as a disgust and not the same with “Homosexually”?
It is important to note that while the 1994 South African constitution for instance included sexual orientation among protected civil rights, others have decried and attacked homosexuality. In Zimbabwe for instance President Robert Mugabe (MHRIP) ordered the harassment of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and two years later destroyed the political influence of ex-President Canaan Banana with a conviction on sodomy charges. Presidents Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya (1999), Sam Nujoma of Namibia (1996), and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (1999) have denounced sex behavior and insisted on strict enforcement of anti-gay legislation. In response, gay men and a few women have begun recounting their life stories in the Press.
Colonization and the spread of fundamentalist Christian attitudes from the British meant that much of Africa lost its previous cultural attitude towards sexual orientation and gender identity and were thus forced to adopt new values from British Colonizers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Homophobia was legally enforced by colonial administrators and Christian missionaries. Anti LGBT laws were not only written into constitutions, but also into the minds of many African people, and after the passing of several generations, this has become dogma.
While many of the countries under the British rule are independent, the majority who still criminalize homosexuality, including Uganda have carried over these laws, many Africans now believe that an anti-gay attitude is one that is part of the culture. So much so, that Robert Mugabe labelled homosexuality as “white disease”.
Do you agree with Mugabe?
Leah Buckle in her write up in September 2019, submitted claims that for many Africans who have had their lives and cultures stripped from them by the British, Western-ness is to be treated with suspicion and its essential to hold on to any part of themselves and their culture they can. This combined with the fact that western countries have threatened to deny aid to these countries unless they conform to their ideals has hindered the fight for LGBT rights in African countries, Buckle argued.
Do you agree with this submission?
For instance, when ex-Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to withdraw aid from Uganda, the presidential adviser responded with “ but this kind of ex-colonial mentality of saying “ you do this or I withdraw my aid will make people extremely un-comfortable with being treated like children.
In the African continent, it is important to note that, South Africa is somewhat an exception when it comes to sexual rights. While many of the nations in Africa consider same sex relationships as crime maintained via laws known as the “sodomy laws which can make offenders face years in prison or a life sentence, it is not the case in South Africa. In the views of other countries in Africa, homosexuality is un-African and presents a major danger to the cultural integrity of their countries, thus turning homosexuality into a scapegoat for all the ills afflicting the population as has been argued by the pro-gay movement.
In Uganda for instance, MPs approved a bill which reinforce the penalization of same sex practices, which will punish same sex-intercourse between adults with life imprisonment with death penalty in cases where the perpetrator is HIV positive. In such a context of disseminated state sponsored discrimination and oppression against lesbian and gay people, how was it possible for South Africa to enact some of the most progressive legislation on sexual rights?
In Botswana, different people have presented their views regarding the issue of LGBIT, others advocating for and others anti. Many have made their submissions based on religious, culture and moral grounds. Others basically stating, ‘We refuse to emulate nations that have no fear of the Lord”. After corrupting their own people, agents from these countries crisscross the world deceiving gullible organizations like BONELA and national leaders to encourage people to succumb to the schemes of the enemy’ Midweek Sun 20/10/2011.
For his part Peter Siele has been quoted in Botswana Gazette 23rd February 2011 as having said ‘As a parent it was difficult for me to talk about legitimizing such acts (gays). I would find it difficult to go around Kgotla meeting advocating for the legitimization of such things.’
Is there need to change the mind set? What more of the Men and Women who do the double shift? What more of those Men who have now resorted to using it for financial gain?
Is your husband involved in this practice and you are so ashamed to come out and openly talk about it and you pretend you are happily married? Is it the same as being married to an alcoholic with a permanent pooza face and you pretend you are happily married?
Thabo Lucas Seleke, writes from Los Angeles, California, USA