Dumi Gatsha weighs in on the recent decriminalisation of same-sex sexual activity in Botswana

The recent judgement decriminalising same sex intercourse is a great milestone in human rights in Botswana. I am weary of including Africa because of the complexity of its diversity and the repressive nature of other jurisdictions.

Botswana has always been unique in either abstaining from UN voting on the death penalty for LGBT and previous presidents either remaining silent whilst maintaining low persecution or standing firm in kicking out hate speech pastors. The government has always been clear – even in Universal Periodic Reviews; noting or progressively acknowledging the need for educating Batswana on LGBT issues.

This is not without the efforts of activists and prominent organisation LEGABIBO. They have maintained progress in advancing for health access and non discrimination. BONELA have also done a significant amount of work, even Ditshwanelo as far back as the 1990s.

This is the kind of work that needs to be documented and shared for many to either replicate or learn from because many other countries have a long way to go. The work of Rainbow Identity (Trans and Intersex), Pilot Manthambo Center for Men’s Health, Men for Health and Gender Justice have all contributed in ensuring that there is betterment of the lives of LGBT. More notably those who really need their services. There are many members of the community who did not necessarily partake in the movement as a virtue of the risk of persecution as a result of the laws or possible levels of privilege in position, economic standing and other fears of stigma and discrimination.

Success Capital Organisation was birthed out of recognising that Accountants also had a role to play in the movement. This is enshrined in our constitution. As we forayed into documenting and exploring operating models two years preceeding our official registration in 2013; we understood the importance of occupying spaces outside HIV and Law. Engaging with policy makers at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants events, University Corporate Social Responsibility spaces and even in our own research initiatives has created visibility outside the norms of advocacy or community organising.

The importance of having visibility and more importantly, voice, in spaces of religion, culture, work, school and even love was demonstrated yesterday in the High Court’s deliberations. Immense work waits before us in widening binary constructs and heteronormative nuances within community organising. A lot is still needed in areas of protections, social change and safeguarding the existence of transgender, non-conforming and others that are invisible or yet to self-determine in the diversity of LGBTIQ+.

The queer community celebrates this beauty of the rule of law and over two decades of work that giants have led us. We are here to support, compliment and strengthen these successes in whatever way we can.

Aluta Continua.


Dumi is a human rights defender, feminist and radical researcher. PhD (Law) candidate, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and independent consultant for state shadow reports, participatory human rights research and grassroots civic action. IG: dumi.activist / www.dumisogatsha.com / gatshadumiso@yahoo.com.