Situation of lesbians and gays and treatment by authorities [BWA34844.E]

A PANOS-Botswana/1 report states that homosexuality exists in Botswana although sex between men and men is illegal (9 May 1999). The report says that "many gay men in Botswana have married in order to be accepted as "respectable"-that is, heterosexual - members of the community. But they continue to have gay sex in secret -often without protection - and this puts their female partners at further risk" for HIV infection (ibid. May 1999).

According to K6 Alliance, a "Canadian gay separatist group" 1998 update, "all forms of homosexuality, either in public or in a private setting," are forbidden. However, lesbianism is permitted (24 July 1998). However, an IPS report states that an amendment to the Penal Code was passed on 30 April 1998 which makes lesbianism a crime which" carries a seven-year jail sentence," while "any act of gross indecency with another man" carries a jail sentence of two years (11 June 1998; IGLHRC n.d).

Although a lesbian and gays group known as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals in Botswana (LEGABIBO) exists, the government has refused to register them as an organisation (Eastgarden 3 Oct. 1999).

The literature suggests that Botswana society seems to be divided on the issue of lesbians and gays. Church groups in Botswana reportedly launched virulent attacks on gays though the Anglican Church exercised some restraint (IPS 11 June 1998), while Dintshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights advocates "the fundamental rights of gays and lesbian people, " an activity for which it received the 2000 FDS Award (IGLHRC n.d).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Eastgarden. 3 October 1999. "Botswana: Information on the Situation for Homosexuals in Botswana."[Accessed: 14 July 2000]

International Gays and Lesbians Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC). n.d. "FDS 2000 Awardee: Ditshwanelo - The Botwana Centre for Human Rights." [Accessed: 14 July 2000]

International Gays and Lesbians Association (IGLA). September 1999. "ILGA Annual Report 1999." [Accessed: 14 July 1999]

Inter Press Service (IPS). 11 June 1998. "Botswana: Homosexuality Under Fire." [Accessed: 14 July 2000]

K6 Alliance. 24 July 1998. Status of Homosexuality in the Currently Existing 192 Independent Countries. [Accessed: 14 July 2000]

PANOS-Botwana /1. 7 May 2000. Lettie Gaelesiwe. "Men Talking Dirty in Botswana: A Way to Fight AIDS." [Accessed: 14 July 2000]