Bradley Fortuin is a Communications and Documentation Officer at the Lesbians, Gay & Bisexuals of Botswana, an organisation in Gaborone, Botswana commonly known as LeGaBiBo. This is an organisation that advocates for the health and wellness of LGBTI in Botswana. Born in Namibia, Bradley moved to Botswana to live with his family in 2001.
He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Botswana, majoring in Information Systems and Management. Bradley identifies as a gay man in the Republic of Botswana and an interview was held with him to explain and tell us more about LGBTI rights in Botswana.
How can you define being “gay?”
Bradley: To me, being gay means being physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually attracted to someone of the same sex.
What does it mean to be gay in Botswana?
Bradley: Well, obviously people have different perspectives based on their various experiences. However, Botswana does not view being gay as a crime.
Section 164 states that having any sexual relations/ sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex is not seen as natural. This means that if caught in the act, one may be sentenced to not more than 14 years imprisonment, under the constitution of Botswana.
Bradley has been working with LeGaBiBo to spread awareness on the issues concerning LGBTI rights. This has been through interactive campaigns, rallies, training sessions and meeting up with different community leaders to communicate the solutions for the problems that are faced by the LGBTI community because of their sexuality.
How do the community organisations e.g Churches, schools view Gay people in Botswana? Are you able to freely express yourself in public or is this considered unlawful in Botswana?
Bradley: There is still a huge gap between how gays are viewed in society. However, it makes me happy to tell you that church leaders and many pastors have been very supportive of our organisation and movement.
We have been conducting information sessions on LGBTI rights in churches, and had the biggest turnout when we were invited to the Annual U.C.C.S.A Conference last year. Many people were grateful to learn and some had so many questions to ask. While others did not agree, they made a very small proportion which really gave us hope.
Furthermore, we have been working with higher education institutions such as IDM, Kgolagano, UB and many other schools to try and create Awareness.
There are 13 support groups across Botswana; Lobatse, Ghanzi, Selebi-Phikwe and Francistown just to name a few made up of young people whose goal is to create equality amongst everyone in Botswana, particularly for the LGBTI community.
LeGaBiBo has been going out into the general public as well. This includes training nurses, doctors and health care specialists in their different fields about the LGBTI community.
What problems do you face in the health care system in Botswana?
Bradley: Cultural norms, societal and religious views have created a gap between nurses, doctors and LGBTI patients. There have been cases where an LGBTI patient’s sexuality was questioned as they are asked to seek God to avoid contracting STI’s etc.
This is where LeGaBiBo comes in. There are awareness programs for health care specialists that allow them to understand the pros of treating LGBTI patients as this could help reduce many cases in Botswana of HIV infections and sexually transmitted diseases, if treated like all other cases.
There has been a huge progress as more nurses/doctors have come to terms with the LGBTI community, allowing them to access the services that each and every citizen has access to.
Unfairness and Mistreatment cases
Many cases have been influenced by section164 found in the constitution of Botswana. Rape cases were recorded as sodomy (lower imprisonment sentence) and some have been dismissed because of the common belief that a “man cannot be rape.”
Pastor Anderson Deportation
Pastor Anderson is a homophobic pastor from the US ( Faithful Word Baptist Church, Phoenix Arizona) who spreads hate and beieves every homosexual person should be killed. He suggests that they have HIV/Aids and are “dirty hypocrites.” Late last year, he came to Botswana with his team inorder to set up a Church to preach this hate. Botswana did not welcome him at all.
Religious leaders, radio stations and a LeGaBiBo petition signed by thousands of Batswana enabled an immediate deportation of him and the team as Botswana is a nation built on peace, unity and respect.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS INFORMATION WITH US BRADLEY. WE WISH YOU THE BEST IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS AND WE HOPE FOR A POSITIVE FUTURE FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY IN BOTSWANA! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK. 💜✊