17 October 2012:
The Women’s Inheritance Case Gives Hope to Gay Rights
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), celebrates and welcomes the decision by Judge Key Dingake which declared the Ngwaketse Customary law rule that excluded female siblings from inheritance as unconstitutional in that it violates the rights to equal protection of the law.
At BONELA; we believe in the full realisation of rights by all irrespective of gender, sex and sexual orientation, among others. It is embarrassing that as a nation we still have such practices in our communities where women are treated as children of their husbands, brothers and worst still, as children of their sons. We trust that this decision has now levelled the ground and, that women rights organisations as well as active citizens will take the decision to educate Batswana to understand what this truly means.
At BONELA, we are more excited by the decision chiefly for two reasons:
- We feel vindicated in our position that dignity of individuals is and should be important to all of us irrespective of what the majority practice. For instance, and for our context, gays and lesbians right to dignity is important and that it is immaterial that the majority of Batswana are heterosexuals.
- The decision has validated that the mood of the society is not a decisive factor on whether there is violation of constitutional rights. The constitution, therefore, has to protect the rights of the minority. The court went on to say it cannot be an acceptable justification to say it is cultural to discriminate against women. We add, so is discriminating against gays and lesbians.
In the premises, we hold the view that this decision will benefit all marginalised groups such as gays, lesbians to approach our courts in pursuit of claiming their rights to equality.