- The rights organization for the LGBT community has emerged from a meeting with President Mokgweetsi Masisi full of optimism that remaining gaps towards a more inclusive society will be closed because “the meeting was very fruitful and engaging”
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has assured the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) that they will be consulted on issues relating to the country’s constitutional review.
This comes after LEGABIBO met with President Masisi on Monday to voice out their concerns affecting the LGBTIQ community.
LEGABIBO, which has been fighting for gay rights in the courts, recently took the opportunity to engage the President on a series of challenges they continue to face.
The CEO of the organization, Thato Moruti, says the objective of the visit was to emphasize the mandate of LEGABIBO for the President’s appreciation and share reflections on the recent decriminalization appeal case that the organization won last year.
“The reflection included a highlight of the exclusion of Section 167 of the constitution in which the President noted and promised that he will engage with judicial authorities and respond accordingly,” Moruti told The Gazette in an interview.
“This visit was also an opportunity to continue interventions with local authorities’ strategy that is grounded in the Beyond the Rainbow Strategic Pillars enshrined in the 2019 – 2023 strategic intent of the organization that gives insight into the character and conviction of the organization to increase the standard of dignity and equality experienced by presently marginalized and excluded minorities.”
Moruti commended President Masisi for his appointment of a constitutional review committee, adding that although they would have liked to have had a representative from the LGBTI community, they are hopeful that the committee will solicit their views.
He disclosed that some of the discussions included LEGABIBO’s view on appointment of constitutional review committee, the Botswana Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme and the President’s Reset Agenda.
“We gave our view that it is quite important to ensure that civil society is represented in the constitutional review, not forgetting issues of the LGBTIQ community because it is quite important to do so, especially after the findings from the human rights committee,” Moruti said.
“The President was general and he did express his support to LEGABIBO and he did highlight that the appointment of the constitutional review is by law. He highlighted that the constitutional review will cover issues of the LGBTIQ community.”
The CEO of added that LEGABIBO spoke with President Masisi about the need for the government to support civil society organisations financially because this is also in line with realization of the 2030 Agenda. “The meeting was very fruitful and engaging,” Moruti said.
“His Excellency the President emphasized that the Government of Botswana is led by principles of democratic governance and the rule of law. He noted that the government will stand on the decision of the Court of Appeal and reiterated that the government will continue to support civil society organizations because they play a pivotal role in the process of leadership and governance.”
Moruti noted that LEGABIBO has placed much hope in Masisi helping to narrow the gap on issues affecting the LGBTIQ community because the President has opened his doors for engagement. “We should anticipate a lot of meetings with the President because he did express his happiness that we visited him and said he will also visit us,” he said.
President Masisi gave a speech against violence on women and children in 2019 in which he emphasized the rights of LGBTI people, saying LGBTI people should enjoy the same rights as all other citizens. “There are also many people of same-sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have suffered in silence for fear of being discriminated (against),” the President said in the speech. “Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected.”
He “called on society to remember all those victims and communities that are vulnerable to violence and abuse”.