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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 42
Botswana should legalize Gay sex, ex-president says
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Botswana should legalize Gay sex, ex-president says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer Former Botswana President Festus Mogae says his country should legalize Gay sex and prostitution to combat HIV/AIDS.

Mogae now heads the African country's AIDS Council. He was president from 1998 until his resignation in 2008. That same year, he was awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. He was also awarded the Grand Cross of France's Legion of Honor for making Botswana a 'model for good government.'

During his administration, Botswana became the first sub-Saharan African country to provide free anti-retroviral drugs to people with HIV/AIDS.

'I don't understand [Gay sex],' he told BBC's Network Africa. 'I am a heterosexual. I look at women. I don't look at other men.

'But there are men who look at other men. These are citizens.'

Mogae added that the government needed to change its policy toward sex workers to help curb HIV/AIDS.

'To protect them and their clients from being infected, you have to assist them to protect themselves. I don't think by arresting them you help them,' he said.

Mogae also called for providing condoms to prisoners.

'If people can go to prison HIV-negative and come out of it HIV-positive, it means that prisons, whatever the law says, are one of the sources of infection,' Mogae told Network Africa.

Botswana's penal code currently forbids having 'carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.' Same-sex relations are classified with bestiality and can result in a prison term of up to five years.

A separate section of the penal code forbids undefined 'gross indecency.'

The U.S. State Department's 2010 Human Rights Report found that 'the police do not target homosexual activity, and there were no reports of violence against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity during the year. However, there were reports of societal discrimination and harassment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender persons.'

Same-sex relations are reportedly viewed as alien and Western among those who adhere to traditional Botswanan cultural norms.

Botswana does have an LGBT rights organization, known as Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo), but it is not recognized by the government and is not allowed to solicit money.

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