|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Lives of Botswana’s transgender people are seemingly about to change for better, following registration of Rainbow Identity Association (RIA), a trans and intersex oriented organisation, formed in 2007 after founder, Skipper Mogapi, realized marginalization of these gender identities among the general lesbian, gay and bisexual movement in that country.
While Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), the first LGBTI group in Botswana is struggling until now to get registered, with the government having said that registering such an organisation will be tantamount to registering an organisation of criminals, Mogapi said the only challenges he faced were delays of up to two years as the application was referred to the Department of Social services from the registrar of societies.
He added that there was also a lot of confusion on the side of the registrar who seemed not to understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, which caused more delays.
Mogapi said the laws of Botswana required RIA to have 10 members, seven board members, a constitution and registration fees of P500.
“It was legally registered on 8 December 2010, the government has recognized us by granting an NGO status and we hope to tackle issues such as identity cards and passports for trans people and their involvement in sports which have been major problems in the past”, Mogapi said.
He added, “I was not sure at all that they would register the organisation since I was a litigant in the case opposing the non registration of LEGABIBO, but now that it is done I am very excited, this will enable us to raise our voices without fear that we are illegitimate. We will also be able to sensitize the general community about issues of sexuality, gender identity and human rights and also to promote the culture of self reliance and courage to voice out human rights violations within our community.”
RIA will soon be recruiting staff to run projects and Mogapi says they will now publish the address of their offices something they avoided disclosing in the past due to stigmatisation of trans and intersex issues.