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No judge for same-sex case

The LBGTI community which thronged the Gaborone High court on Thursday to hear a landmark case challenging the constitutionality of government’s criminalizing of same sex coitus was left confused as their case did not have a judge.

The case was filed before former Lobatse High Court Judge Justice Michael Leburu who was recently transferred to Gaborone High Court. According to information reaching this publication, Justice Leburu was supposed to leave to Gaborone with part-heard matters and it was decided that the same sex case was not one of them.

On Thursday the human rights advocacy group, Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) which has been admitted as amicus curiae (“a friend of the court”) came to the high court not knowing that their case was not transferred to Gaborone but remains in Lobatse as it is considered as a fresh matter yet to be sat down for argument. The Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, Transgender and Intersex community left the Gaborone High Court disappointed and confused by the happenings.

In an interview with WeekendPost on Thursday LEGABIBO lawyer Tshiamo Rantao said he only heard on Wednesday that Justice Leburu would not bring the case with him to Gaborone. To his knowledge, the case was transferred to Gaborone chambers.  “For now I do not know who the judge is or will be. I also do not know when the case will be heard. The case has never been sat down for judgment… but I honestly believe this is not a fresh matter before Justice Leburu as it was part-heard by the same judge during the admission of LEGABIBO case which we won. The case was considered during the admission of LEGABIBO case, so it is not a fresh matter but was part-heard,” said Rantao.

Registrar of the Lobatse High Court is yet to decide the date of the case. In the case, which challenges the constitutionality of sections 164(a), 164(c) and 165 of the Botswana Penal Code, LEGABIBO is represented and supported by Tshiamo Rantao and the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC). LEGABIBO believes the criminalization of same-sex sexual acts perpetrate stigma, intolerance, homophobia and violence against the LGBT. On the other hand government is out to defend the constitutionality of the same-sex act law and court papers seen by this publication indicate that the state has come all out and engaged experts in matters of homosexuality.

In his writings about same sex relationships published on African Human Rights Law Journal in 2004, former University of Botswana Dr Emmanuel Kwabena Quansah believes the wind of change blowing through kindred liberal democracies for the decriminalization of homosexual practices will take some time to reach Botswana. He is of the view that the future recognition of same-sex relationships, one may conclude, lies mainly in the hands of those who wish to engage in this type of relationship.

“Despite the many obstacles faced by and prejudices shown against them by society, they must stand up and be counted in order to influence a shift in public opinion, leading to legislative and constitutional changes in the status quo. Their heterosexual compatriots are not likely to do it for them,” said Dr Quansah.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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