Christians in Botswana are the most homophobic and intolerant of individuals involved in same sex relationships. The latest report of the Afrobarometer information measuring tool that tracks attitude and perceptions of citizens on civil liberties and same sex relationships indicates that 62 percent of religious people strongly attest against homosexuals.
“Christians are strongly against relationships of people with the same sex and only 32 percent are tolerant,” said the national investigator of Afrobarometer Professor Mogopodi Lekorwe. He added that some representatives of the religious community are lobbying government to appeal against the case in which the courts granted the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals community of Botswana (LEGABIBO) the right to associate. “Despite the fact that LEGABIBO is just an association that aims to fight for rights of other people Christians are strongly against their existence,” he said adding that despite all facts churches still strongly reject relationships of people with the same sex.
Mogopodi added that the same rejection and intolerance is spread across majority of citizens both in rural and urban areas, including by age patterns. The findings indicate that 60 percent of Batswana would mind having a co-worker who is in same sex relationship. All age groups with clear intergenerational differences are strongly against homosexuality in Botswana. The highest rejection is experienced from the senior citizens. “75 percent of those aged 50-64 strongly disapproves, but those 65+ stands at 82 percent rejection of homosexuality.” Young people indicate that they have mixed emotions as their tolerance rate is split in half. They further found that 60 percent of the citizens want action taken against individuals of the same sex orientation.
“People prefer to report homosexuals to the police despite their relations to those people,” he said adding that people would prefer to report their siblings, child, co-worker, close friend and any relative should they discover that they are homosexual. Reached for comment regarding the findings LEGABIBO coordinator Cain Youngman said intolerance is an evil thing especially if churches practice it. “There is nothing wrong with homosexuals it is just that people do not want to listen to what they have to say.” Cain pointed out that Christians are so biased against them that they are rejecting homosexuals without even giving them a chance to air their views.“We often invite them to meetings and they would never turn up,” he said adding that it’s that kind of intolerance that the nation should fight against. “Homosexuals are also Batswana and they need to fight for their rights just like everyone else.” He pointed out that at the end of the day homosexuals, just like heterosexuals engage in normal day-to-day activities and what makes them different is their sexual preference. “This is just pure intolerance of people who do not even take the time to appreciate each other’s differences.” He added that people cannot hang on the order of nature explanation to discriminate as what is nature to one might not be to another. “Every individual has their own order of nature and they should not be discriminated for that.”
For his part Vice President of Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) Bishop Owen Isaacs said he is even surprised that only 60 percent of Christians are against homosexuality.
Isaacs said Christians struggle to accept the practice as it is not consistent with their faith and goes against the principles of their religion. “Homosexuality is pure abomination and the Bible clearly defines it as an evil practice,” he said adding that Christians do not hate people but rather they cannot accept the practice of sodomy. “Some of us who believe in the principles of God can never accept such practice.” He pointed out that the practice is not only unholy but goes against the Setswana practice.
He pointed out that the pressure to endorse such behaviour is coming from the outside world and it would continue, as they will fund the function of LEGABIBO. He however pointed out that despite the association of LEGABIBO, Christians cannot afford to change the principles of their religion. “Homosexuality is going against nature, cultural norms and propagation, the exact key to human existence.” He advised that the drift might result in potential violence, as Batswana are not ready to accept the practice.