Thank you, President,
Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of Black Queer DocX, Banana Club, Botswana Trans Initiative, Love Loss Life, Mmammati Human Rights Hub, Iranti, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Sexual Rights Initiative.
We regret that Botswana received and noted several recommendations on decriminalising abortion, on repealing Section 167 of the Penal Code, and on ensuring access to legal gender recognition. Botswana must eliminate discrimination against women and ensure their access to legal, safe, and affordable sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, which Botswana still criminalises, and gender-affirming care.
Though some progress has been made in repealing laws criminalising sexual acts between consenting adults, Botswana still criminalises same-sex relations between consenting lesbian, bisexual and queer women. Section 167 of the Penal Code still remains, and it can still be used against those deemed to commit acts of gross indecency both in private and in public.
Finally, despite the Botswana High Court order, the government of Botswana is yet to introduce a clear administrative process for legal gender recognition for transgender and gender-diverse persons, which would enable them to change their gender marker. As a result, transgender people are still required to go through the costly and arduous process of seeking a court order to allow for a change of gender marker on their documentation.
We therefore call upon the Government of Botswana to:
- Decriminalise abortion and ensure that safe abortion services are accessible, affordable, and available across the country up to 28 weeks of pregnancy.
- Repeal Section 167 of the Penal Code.
- Adopt policy guidelines on legal gender recognition and simplify the process for transgender and gender diverse persons seeking gender recognition by eliminating the need for a court order, and by providing gender-affirming healthcare at public health facilities.