Gay sex: to legalise or not

Bame Piet
FEELING ISOLATED: LGBTQ community

Parliament faces same sex dilemma

Constitutional crisis looming over LGBTQ – Law Expert

Following last weekend’s march by religious organisations opposed to the proposed amendment to decriminalize homosexuality, several MPs have made it known that they too will not stand for such.

Even those from the ruling party have made it clear they will defy President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who recently hosted members of the LGBTQ community assuring them of his support.

The big question is: what will happen if Parliament rejects ‘Bill 29’ when it is presented in a few days’ time?

Professor Tachilisa Balule of the Law Department at the University of Botswana (UB) says Parliament is not superior to the Courts and therefore cannot ignore court recommendations.

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He says if the House rejects the Bill then they will have no option but to amend the Bill of Rights in the Constitution which needs two thirds majority.

“If the Parliament does not comply with this recommendation then we will be faced with a Constitutional crisis. As you know, Parliament is not above the law, and in this case the LGBTQ community can sue Parliament,” he said, adding that as a democracy, Botswana has to recognize and respect the rights of the minority and be tolerant to others who are different from them and abide by the rule of law.

Some religious organisations have called for a referendum on the proposed amendment, arguing that the number of MPs is not enough to make such a huge decision for the nation.

Similarly, anti-gay sex activists at last weekend’s march expressed their fears, predicting that the amendment will cascade into other demands such as forcing pastors to preside over gay marriages.

Some are worried that the amendment will open floodgates for more demands, with gay activists advocating for children to use hormone blockers or chemical castration if they are not happy with their gender, forbidding of use of pronouns such as She or He when referring to other people, and de-recognition of other genders.

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“They are going to demand amendment of other laws such as the Marriage Act, the Childrens Act, and others. This amendment is going to lead to infringement on rights of other people in society,” one of the activists hinted but refused to be named for fear of reprisals.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice Ronald Shamukuni has said that the government has no plans to legalize gay marriages, adding they do not have statistics showing the number of homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, transgender and asexuals in Botswana.

”Statistics Botswana, the custodian of the country’s records has not started collecting information pertaining to these sub-populations. The Ministry has not yet developed any strategy to sensitize the public about LGBTQ. It should be appreciated that this is a new development coming through a decision of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

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The Minister was responding to a Parliamentary question by MP for Serowe North, Baratiwa Mathoothe on Wednesday, who had wanted him to state the government’s position and policy regarding homosexuality in government schools, statistics on LGBTQ people, and what is being done to sensitize the public about them.

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