The Women’s Inheritance Case Gives Hope to Gay Rights

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Signed by

Uyapo Ndadi
Executive Director