Advocacy group for Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) has raised concerns about the continued marginalization of gay persons during the ongoing constitutional review commission meetings.
Head of Policy and legal advocacy at LEGABIBO Caine Youngman told this publication that some community leadership have subjected gay persons to silence and thus making it difficult for them to raise their issues during Kgotla meetings.
He stated that gay persons face intimidation during Kgotla meetings and as a result making it almost impossible to have their issues noted.
“There is some sort of intimidation during this Kgotla meetings because some of our members report to us that they tend to be elbowed from speaking out. For those allowed to speak out are limited and some even being told that their views have been represented,” he said.
Youngman further said it is unfortunate that they have been subjected to silence even though some support groups are given enough platform.
He stated that it should be noted that every organization has its own constitution and therefore it should not be considered that some organizations speak for others.
“We have members across the country but in most cases they are not allowed to speak because they are being told that a certain organization which has its own constitution will speak on our behalf,” he added.
Youngman highlighted that despite this, they will not be deterred from raising their issues as they have since communicated with their members to submit their own thoughts on how they would like the national constitution to be crafted.
“We have since engaged our sister groups in various Districts to accompany our members so that they can be able to speak out during these meetings,” said Youngman.
He said after collecting all thoughts of their members, they will then submit their write-up to the commission.
Youngman stated that at the top of their priority, they would like to have certain issues addressed in the constitution in order to have an equal society.
He said they want the recognition of the LGBTIQ individuals in the constitution adding that it is their desire to see the constitution recognizing people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We also want the constitution to recognize people based on their sexual characteristics because there are people born with intersex,” said Youngman.
He further said they want the constitution to protect the LGBTIQ community against discrimination.
“If the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression and sex characteristics then that means when our member goes to a Police station to report they will then be assisted accordingly and this will take away the abuse,” he said.
Botswana is one of only a handful of African countries to have decriminalized homosexuality. In November, a high court judge said that gay citizens had long lived in “constant fear of discovery or arrest” when expressing “love for their partners.”
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said they expect everybody to respect the decisions of the court.
Masisi vowed to fully implement a 2019 court ruling decriminalizing homosexuality, two months after losing an appeal that sought to overturn it.
Early this year Masisi invited LGBTQ leaders to his office to reassure them that he would respect the court’s decision and protect their rights.
“We demand and expect anybody to respect the decisions of our court,” he said during the meeting with members of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO).