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Botswana ex-president in plea over homosexuals

Tuesday October 19 2010

By ELIAS MBAO, Nation Correspondent

Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae yesterday said African governments and leaders must not enact laws that criminalise homosexuality and sex work, warning that such legislation would inhibit the fight against HIV/Aids.

Mr Mogae, who chairs a team dubbed ‘Champions of an HIV-Free Generation’ that comprise prominent African anti-Aids activists, told Zambian President Rupiah Banda at State House in Lusaka that homosexuals and sex workers were part of society and they should not be stigmatised or discriminated.

Mr Mogae said he had written to some African Presidents, without mentioning names, who wanted to pass laws to criminise homosexuality, advising them not to do so.

The former President, who explained that he is heterosexual, said in Botswana homosexuality was illegal but he had been engaging the government to repeal the law that criminalises homosexuality.

Due to his advocacy, Mr Mogae said “nobody has been prosecuted over the last three years” for being homosexual.

And President Banda, whose government is anti-gay rights, accused the foreign donors were making youths believe that “homosexuality is a human right and that if you appear to speak against it then you are a reactionary and you don’t understand the world”.


Without categorically backing Mr Mogae’s position, President Banda said to “hear it from the position of the Champions in the fight against Aids then you understand why we should not criminalise them [homosexuals], understand them and at the same time try and sensitize our young people” about homosexuality.