The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGAGIBO) has reacted with outrage to a statement by the Gaborone North MP, Haskins Nkaigwa, that homosexuals are getting all the plum jobs in the corporate sector.
Concluding his contribution to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs budgetary proposal, Nkaigwa expressed grave concern about a new employment trend that favours homosexuals over heterosexuals.
“Just recently we have heard that the gay and lesbian movement won their case at the Court of Appeal, but then when we look at this employment trend, it seems like people who are gay are the ones being employed,” the MP said, pausing only when laughter broke out before continuing: “When you look at the cooperate world…”
At this point, the Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi, asked Nkaigwa to clarify his remarks. The MP’s clarification was that “According to my Christian view, these people that confuse me seem to be getting high positions in the corporate world.” He urged the house to “look into this issue” and warned that “we might find ourselves being led by this type of people.” In response to a point-of-order call and before yielding, Nkaigwa hastened to point out that “Some Members may call for a point of order because they love them.” The Minister of Health, Dorcus Makgato, did indeed raise the point of order to the effect that the MP had crossed the line and she managed to get him to withdraw his words. While Nkaigwa has withdrawn his words, they have not been expunged from the Hansard, the record of parliamentary proceedings.
LEGAGIBO’s Advocacy Officer, Caine Youngman, has described the MPs words as “shocking” and challenged him to provide statistical evidence.
“I don’t know where he got those figures and would consider it very useful if he directed us to the source. As far as I am aware, Statistics Botswana labour surveys don’t demarcate people according to sexual orientation such that they would indicate that so many heterosexuals or homosexuals are working. I also know that we have industrial relations cases relating to some our members who were denied employment solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. Others say their bosses have made their lives a living hell simply because they are gay or lesbian,” said Youngman, adding that Nkaigwa should reveal employers who are biased in favour of homosexuals in order that LEGAGIBO can direct its unemployed members there.
The MP’s previous point was on foreign pastors who are refused visas by the government. Youngman said that Nkaigwa should not use the LGBT community as a scapegoat for such pastors not being able to get pastoral work in Botswana and that he should stop using religion to persecute other people.
“He needs to appreciate the fact that Botswana is a secular state and that the constitution doesn’t give rights to groups of people but to individuals,” he said.
Youngman further asserted that the Employment Act doesn’t favour anyone on the basis of sexual orientation.