10th October 2014: BONELA CONDEMNS THE GOVERNMENT OF BOTSWANA IN VOTING AGAINST A UNITED NATIONS (UN) HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL RESOLUTION TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE HOSTILITY AND DISCRIMANATION BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL ORIETATION.
On the 26th September 2014 the Botswana government voted against a UN resolution that seeks to protect sexual minority groups against discrimination and violence.
Botswana Government was punitive in disapproving the resolution put forward by the UN Human Rights Council displaying lack of commitment to human rights and also contradicting itself as the Domestic Violence Act of 2008 stands to protect any person in a domestic relationship.
Botswana’s action also violates and contradicts its own national roadmap as espoused in Vision 2016 development strategy, specifically the Pillar 3 which calls for “A Free and a Tolerant Nation”. The denial by government to accede to and voting against this resolution demonstrates government‘s intolerance of LGBTI persons. It is appalling that such an important international resolution was shunned by the government.
On the contrary, the government of Botswana passed the Domestic Violence Act in 2008 which seeks to provide victims of domestic violence with protection and empowers courts to pass on orders which will immediate protection to victims and survivors of violence. This Act provides the protection of any person in a domestic relationship and the term ‘any person’ includes and refers to any person irrespective of gender, or sexual orientation. By definition and determination this Act covers and should protect everybody including LGBTI from the risk and or circumstances of violence. Domestic and social violence in and targeted towards LGBT community in Botswana continues to be a serious security issue of those individuals and their families. Significantly, a number of cases that involve LGBTI violence go unreported due to the disenabling and oppressive legal and justice system and environment. At service point level i.e. at police stations and health facilities negative and hostile attitudes of the police and health care workers makes victims and survivors unable to speak out for fear of revealing to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AID notes that “violence is violence” and it does not matter whether it is between two men, two women or a transgendered individual. Government should be putting in place mechanisms that are aimed at reducing the probability of occurrence because it is its duty to protect and uphold the rights of ALL its citizens without favour. Botswana‘s action affirms the institutionalization of homo and transphobia which will further marginalise and alienate the LGBTI community.
Human rights are universal and internationally acceptable principles and should be conferred to all citizens regardless of gender of any other classification or categorisation.
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