Members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) in Francistown will tomorrow (Saturday) take to the second city’s streets to present a petition against the looming amendment of the Penal Code, which will legalise same-sex relationships.
Bill No 29, tabled by the Minister of Justice, Ronald Shamukuni, has divided opinion and sparked outrage from Christian denominations across the country.
Prior to High Court’s landmark ruling in 2019, Botswana’s Penal Code outlawed ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’, a crime that carried a possible seven-year prison term if convicted.
That all changed four years ago, when, following a constitutionality challenge made by LQBTIQIA+ activists, High Court decriminalized same-sex relationships – a ruling that government challenged but which the Court of Appeal upheld in November 2021.
It seems churches are only now starting to realise the significance of this victory.
“We are the custodians of the word of God, and are against having same sex marriages,” said Pastor Brown Tsholofelo, spokesperson of the EFB Francistown.
Tsholofelo told The Voice that just as the country has custodians in politics and culture, their role is to deal with spiritual matters.
“We know what Bill 29 will bring to this country. Believe me it’ll bring more harm than good,” he warned.
Pastor Tsholofelo admitted that the church dropped the ball by not opposing the registration of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as a society in 2016.
“We thought they’d advocate that these people be assisted. We were under the impression that LEGABIBO would advocate for counselling and work with us to bring these people closer to God,” he explained.
The Pastor revealed they have been granted permission to march under police escort this Saturday, where they’ll submit their petition to Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP), Ignatius Moswaane.
“The march will start at around 11pm at Chedu Choga grounds, and we’ll march to the MP’s office,” said Tsholofelo.
The Pastor further told The Voice their original plan was to petition all three Francistown MPs, but Moswaane was the only one to avail himself.
In a brief interview on Wednesday, Moswaane confirmed he was ready to welcome the EFB members this weekend and receive their petition.
“My duty as an MP is to make laws and act as oversight. When any Motswana complains I have to give them an ear,” he stressed.
“I’m also a Christian, and will do anything to fight for Christian values!” declared Moswaane.