Renowned human rights lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi has labelled as ‘utterly shocking, unexpected and lacking justification’ of Botswana’s recent decision to vote against the United Nations’ (UN) position on condemning the gay s*x death penalty.
He added Botswana’s actions on this global platform should be treated as a cause for concern, as it would have been a perfect opportunity to reaffirm the human rights and dignity of homosexual persons internationally.
Botswana is one of the 13 countries that recently voted against the UN resolution condemning gay s*x death penalty, Mmegi has learnt.
Although the vote passed, Botswana joined America, China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move.
“The position by Botswana is utterly shocking, totally unexpected and lacks justification. This is particularly due to the fact that in Botswana, though same-s*x intercourse is deemed illegal under Penal Code, the offence does not attract the death penalty,” Ndadi said.
Though Botswana has retained the death penalty for certain offences such as murder amongst others, Ndadi said it has incorporated all safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, which was approved by the Economic and Social Council Resolution, and has introduced measures to mitigate the enforcement of the penalty through the use of extenuating circumstances.
“In light of this, Botswana’s actions in voting against the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution is a direct contradiction given that the death penalty in relation to same-s*x intercourse is not even remotely applicable to our jurisdiction,” he added.
In addition, he described the decision as double standard in terms of promoting human rights and dignity of homosexual persons in that the country has “made significant strides in embracing homosexuality and sexual orientation”.
One such law is Section 23 of the Employment Act that prohibits termination of employment on account of sexual orientation, he added.
Ndadi also pointed out the constitutional right to association in relation to homosexual persons, which was upheld by the court in its order to have Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) registered as an organisation. The organisation has since been extremely active in advocating for the rights of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex community.
“We recently also applauded our government for deporting the American pastor, Anderson who preached hate against homosexuality and have heard reports from President (Ian) Khama saying intercourse between same-s*x persons is an issue which is private, which we should not concern ourselves with,” he said.
As such, Ndadi said there is absolutely no correlation between the strides Botswana has made in protecting the human rights of homosexual persons and its conduct in voting against the resolution, especially noting the fact that the resolution is condemning the imposition of the death penalty on private matters of consenting adults in the privacy of their bedrooms.
The Human Rights Council position condemned the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-s*x relations”.
It attacked the use of execution against persons with “mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women”.