Amidst the awful news from Malawi a small light of positiveness from Botswana as the government makes an unprecedented move to meet with activists from the LGBTI movement and sexworkers which might lead to the “offical acceptance of the existence of these groups”
In a coup for NACA and the advocacy group that has been campaigning for these groups to come out from the cold, the Botswana Network Of Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) will lead the Lesbians, Gay and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) and the Research Triangle Institute (TRI) to a meeting of the National Aids Council on June 4 to discuss research findings on these groups.
TRI represents the interests of sex workers.
The aim is to chart a way forward for addressing issues of HIV/AIDS and related illnesses as well as intervention measures for these marginalised groups. The National Coordinator of NACA, Richard Matlhare, has confirmed this meeting, saying these groups cannot be ignored because the HIV/AIDS pandemic affects everyone.
“We will take the research findings to the council to discuss intervention measures that will benefit these specific people,” Matlhare said. However, he could not provide any further details on the meeting.
The meeting is anticipated as a break with the past, when the government steadfastly refused to even acknowledge the existence of homosexuals. Last year, a lesbian working for BONELA, Prisca Mogapi, and a gay member of LEGABIBO, Caine Youngman, threatened to sue the government over Section 164 of the penal code which criminalises same sex relationships.
The two wanted the ‘offending’ section to be declared unconstitutional.