In dispute: Botswana plan to deport 'gay foreigners,' arrest locals

The BBC reports under the heading “News from Elsewhere… …as found by BBC Monitoring”:

Botswana plans to deport gay foreigners, reports suggest

Government officials have discussed a strategy to detain homosexuals if they are locals – or deport them if they are foreigners – for “disorderly and indecent” behaviour, reports Mmegi newspaper. It seems prostitutes face the same treatment.

Uyapo Ndadi, director of Bonela (Photo courtesy of Mmegi Online)
Uyapo Ndadi, director of Bonela in Botswana (Photo courtesy of Mmegi Online)

Uyapo Ndadi, director of Bonela, an NGO which aims to protect the rights of people with AIDS, told the daily that “the government continues to introduce unlawful and unconstitutional laws without consulting the people”.

Dakar-based pan-African APA News agency claims that even foreigners with valid papers could be detained for 48 hours before it’s decided whether they are to be deported. There are growing fears that the powers of arrest given to the police and the department of immigration could lead to a “witch-hunt”, it reports.

Botswana, which has seen an influx of refugees in recent years from Angola, Namibia, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes region, is known for its strict immigration policies. It has also been criticised for having anti-gay laws that punish “unnatural offences” and “indecent practices” with a jail sentence of up to five years.

Ndadi accused the Ministry of Health of lining up potential targets for arrest or deportation by duping sex workers and men who have sex with men to take part in a study, which was presented as a way to understand them better in order to help them and reduce stigma against them.

Mmegi reported:

In a document dubbed, ‘A Draft of Strategies to Address Key Populations’, it was agreed in a consultative meeting between police, immigration, the Ministry of Health and NACA that prostitutes will either be detained if they are locals or deported in they are foreigners for their ‘disorderly and indecent’ behaviour.

The departments collaborated to strategise on steps to be taken to address issues that arose from the recent study conducted by the Ministry of Health.

It was agreed during the meeting that police and immigration officers will engage in a six-month special operation to sieve out the culprits.

Locals will be arrested and charged accordingly, and a profile built for future references and appropriate referrals for medical interventions.

Foreign sex workers will be deported.

It was indicated that special arrangements will be made with immigration officers to be available during weekends when necessary. …

The director of the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care in the Ministry of Health, Dr Refeletswe Lebelonyane is reported to have admitted the contents of the document during a media conference, but said that it is only a draft. The director could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Putin: LGBTs welcome at Sochi Olympics; relief; protest

    Shunned by families, gay teens face rape, HIV on Jamaican streets