Thursday, September 28, 2023

Calls for Botswana sport to embrace sexual minorities

For a long time now, sport has not openly welcomed the Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community into its fold.

While strides have been made and some athletes have since come out, the issue of LGBTQ community participation is still controversial. The debate has included issues such as failure to create a platform for the LGBTQ community to compete.

Recently, the thorniest issue in sport has been the participation of transgender people in sport. This past week, the world swimming body, FINA, announced a ban on male to female transgenders competing against women in swimming.

Less than 48 hours later, the International Rugby League followed suite, announcing its decision to preclude transgender women from playing women’s international rugby.

The move may see the gains of the LGBTQ community in the fight for inclusivity in sport being eroded. And unless platforms are created for such, it is likely that the new policies will but stop transgender women from participating in competitive sport.

Commenting on the latest controversies, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) chief executive officer Thato Moruti said looking at how things are turning out in the world of sport, it is evident that sport organisations continue to place a low priority on addressing the exclusion and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning/queer, and sexual/gender diverse).

“There is strong evidence that LGBTQ+ people experience discrimination in sport and that sport managers remain resistant to addressing the harm caused to this community,” Moruti said.

Turning to Botswana’s sport front, he said following the decriminalisation case in November, 2021, the country should by now embrace and work to ensure that sport creates platforms and opportunities for members of the LGBTQ communities.

Noting that, sport should go far and beyond by improving demographic diversity in recreational sport with much focus on sport policy makers; especially noting that the LGBTQ communities are strong and talented in sports, thus they should be recognised regardless of how they identify.

“Transgender and gender diverse athletes (this including intersex athletes) should be allowed to participate on the merit of their self-determination and chosen identities, creating separate categories for transgender and intersex athletes will exclude and build on to the already existing discrimination experienced by the community,” he stated. 

“The bodies governing different sporting codes need to take advantage of organisations like LEGABIBO on capacitating themselves on gender and sexual diversity so that they are better able to include them through inclusive and affirming policies,” Moruti concluded. As it stands, LEGABIBO has never been included in any policy making in sport in Botswana. Pointing out that sport is part of life and it is without a doubt that LGBTQ+ people are within sport.


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