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‘PILANE IS HOMOPHOBIC’

Yvonne Mooka

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Advocate Sidney Pilane has attracted the wrath of an international symposium in Johannesburg for the ‘anti-gay’ remarks he made recently in the landmark case involving Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana.

Pilane, who is representing the Attorney General’s Chambers in the case, argued in court that homosexuality is unAfrican and does not correlate with the traditional values of Batswana. “As things stand Botswana is being forced to abandon its moral values. The courts should be conservative and measured,” he said then. He also said that there was no substantial evidence to indicate that Batswana’s views on homosexuality had softened in the past years

He cited the Kanane case of 2004 before the Court of Appeal, which indicated that Batswana were hardened against acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals, adding that Penal Code provisions could be revisited when the time was right. At the end of Key Populations Reach Programme regional symposium in Johannesburg, whose mission was to evaluate the programme after its three years, Pilane’s name featured and it was in no flattering terms.

“This is just unfortunate and a display of ignorance. I wonder if the lawyer knows what homosexuality is and what being African and unAfrican is,” said Adolf Mavheneke, Regional Policy and Advocacy Specialist at SAfAIDS. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, Mavheneke said Pilane needs a dose of the boxes and binaries so that he can understand better issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. “It is this moral narrative which entrenches stigma and discrimination,” he said.

He added that Pilane’s remarks are the narrative empty of the inclusive agenda which aims at defining the world in the commitment to end HIV by 2030. “We cannot take in measures, practices and sentiments that put one of our own as lesser human. To be different is the peak of humanity and human diversity and the understanding and respect for that diversity is the moral signature and truth we should preach,” he said.

Established in 1994, SAfAIDS is a regional non-profit organisation based in Harare, Zimbabwe that works to promote ethical and effective development responses to sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV and tuberculosis (TB) by working to influence changes in policy and social practices through advocacy, communication, and social mobilisation. It was one of the organisations engaged in the KP Reach programme.

SAfAIDS’ primary target group is policy makers and the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, whilst their secondary target group is the general population that requires a specific service. SAfAIDS works in partnerships with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs), AIDS Service Organisations (ASOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs), and the media to reach their target populations.

Meanwhile, Pilane is reported to have asked in Court what was so important about ‘sex’ that homosexuals could “not do it” without upsetting the laws, saying that they were conducting their affairs behind closed doors anyways.

Pilane further wondered whether legalising homosexuality indicated to the public that there was room to change the law to accommodate “unnatural behaviour”, and asked rhetorically: “Should those who partake in bestiality (sleep with animals) also come here and demand that laws be changed to accommodate them?” LEGABIBO is represented by Tshiamo Rantao, and the applicant, a gay man, is represented by Gosego Lekgowe. The ruling is set for June 11.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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Wame – a little einstein in the making

Irene Shone

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LITTLE EISTEIN: Wame Kangumbe

Wame Petit Kangumbe, 12, is an Optometrist in the making.

Kangumbe envisions taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the next level by inventing something scientific in the future.The standard 7 pupil at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye impressed everyone during the BIUST 5th STEM Festival and Research and Innovation Symposium with her sharp answers during the fest.

The little Scientist believes that the entire country should embrace science and do more experiments, to find out more about our physical environment and shed dependency on foreign countries in terms of Science and Engineering.

Her secret to relating with different topics so well, is research and more research. “I like researching. We have Wi-Fi at home, and so I often use my mother’s phone to type different topics and interact with how everything is related. I always prepare for the next lesson through researching,” she said.

She said the poverty in Africa can only be eliminated through STEM. “If everyone could take interest in STEM, we would go further in terms of uplifting the status of our economies as African countries,” she said.

She urged her peers to believe in themselves and be serious about their education. “When you write down your notes in class, make an application of what you want out of them. Everyone’s life is in their own hands,” she advised.

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