|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
With the way the debate on homosexuals has all of a sudden intensified; some of us feel like we have just woken up from a dream. By Mash Udenula.
Just what has become so urgent about homosexuals and prostitutes that Uyapo Ndadi, the director of BONELA has found a higher calling in preaching their course to the whole nation? I know Ndadi is paid to do what he is doing and I can only imagine how much funds have been injected into the whole campaign. In case you never knew, it is a well-calculated and handsomely funded campaign with a very clear agenda.
I have listened to and read opinions on the issue from both opposing sides of the argument as well as from those who are in the middle ground. I find it interesting that from an intellectual point of view, the pro gay group seems to be carrying the day and becoming bolder with its demands to have the Botswana constitution amended. What has been the undoing of the anti-gay group is that it tends to only condemn homosexuality from religious, moral and cultural points of view. In reaction, the pro gay guys have been sounding smart when they proudly inform us that they happen not to subscribe to our religious and cultural beliefs and therefore we are being bigoted and out of our minds when we insist on judging them using standards from our holy books. They boldly tell us that as a basic human right they have a right to believe and practice whatever they wish as long as it does not affect you and me. I mean they have a point. As a Christian I too would never want a fundamentalist Muslim to insist that I follow his Sharia law simply because I happen to be in a country where Muslims are in the majority.
However, what I find pretentious about the pro-gay people are the reasons they are advancing as to why they want to alter our constitution. Firstly, they say they want the clause that criminalizes their sexual acts to be removed because they feel discriminated against. Then they want our constitution to allow them to marry so that they can enjoy the full rights of married couples. Somewhere in hushed voices I hear they also want to be allowed to adopt children and raise them as ‘father and dad’ or as ‘mother and mommy.’ The question I would like to pose is; just what discrimination are the gays in Botswana experiencing to warrant amendments to our constitution? I mean, as far as what I see on a daily basis, unlike in other countries, in Botswana these guys are free to do and say whatever they want. I don’t know how many gay people Ndadi knows, because I would certainly like to know how many of them have suffered ill treatment from members of the public or the police for that matter, on account of being gay. As for the issue of marriage, my question is what are they really being deprived of currently, that is so essential that our constitution should be altered? There are so many heterosexual couples living together that are not married. So what difference does it make if an insignificant number of gay couples go legally unmarried? I might not be aware; maybe the government of Botswana gives some money to married couples hence the noise from gays to want to be allowed to be legally married. I mean if they really love each other I am sure they can make other necessary legally binding arrangements in the form of wills to secure each other in the event of one of them dying.
As for adopting children, I want to point out to my gay friends that choices and rights have consequences and responsibilities too. The natural fact that two men or two women cannot produce a child is a consequence and reality that gay people must accept to live with. With some things in life you cannot have your cake and eat it at the same time. Adopting unfortunate kids of other people is a very selfish idea by the gay community who want to be blind to the fact that the peculiar same sex parents situation will definitely have a negative impact on the children. As gays pursue their rights they should not lose sight of the fact that others, including children, also have rights and one of those rights is to grow up in a secure environment. In a world where the majority find homosexuality abnormal and repulsive, throwing a child in a same sex parents set up throws them in an automatically adverse environment. Imagine a child having to spend most of his childhood explaining to his or her friends how come he has a father and a father for parents while everyone else has a mother and a father. I think it would be a great failure of responsibility if as a nation we do not provide protection for our highly impressionable children from exposure to the abnormal set up of same sex couples.
Altering our Constitution
In Botswana we have absolutely no need to alter our constitution on account of gay people. Gay people are not being killed; no one is hunting them down and they are free in this country even though most of us don’t like their sexual orientation. Our President Ian Khama is on record for saying that, as a country, we have better things to do than finding out whether Peter had sex with Mark so that we can arrest them.
What I want the gay people to appreciate is that when it comes to the constitution of Botswana they must remember that this is our constitution. And because we live in a democratic country, we too have the right to choose the kind of laws and environment we want in our land. If we the majority don’t want our society to be contaminated by exposing our children to seeing the weird occurrence of two men getting married, so be it. Democratically speaking, that is how it will be; otherwise we won’t be a democracy. Remember, I have a right to the opinion that gays are weird just as much as gays have the right to think they are normal. We are not going to kill gay people or insult them, but they must not push their luck by trying to tamper with our constitution when we the majority do not accept their abnormality. Remember the Botswana Democratic Party has been in power for decades and it is in the habit of sometimes throwing out even brilliant laws as long as they come from the opposition. It’s simply the democratic machinery at play. It’s a game of numbers. Now, the opposition has not died, has it? Gay people must appreciate that before any MP even attempts to convince me to change our laws to allow gays to marry, he will have to explain to me what is so urgent about gays that is more important than a law about declaration of assets by our leaders. I will demand to know what is of more benefit to the nation, between a law to allow gays to marry and a law that ensures access to public information. The law to allow for the direct election of the president of Botswana has to be in place before anyone in parliament even dreams of raising gay issues in parliament. As I see it, as long as no one is killing or harassing gays in Botswana, there is no tyranny of the majority against the minority gays, and gays are just fine. Let us not be drama queens - there are more important constitutional debates that are of broader benefit to the nation than the gay issue. Let us not waste tax money on something whose cost benefit to the nation is absolutely unjustifiable. The same goes for legalizing prostitution. Let the prostitutes do their staff just like they have always been doing, and may God help them find light, but they should not dare try to tamper with our constitution. We are not going to stand for that. As Batswana we should hold any Member of Parliament who makes mockery of our goodwill and patience to account by insisting on debating gay issues when there are more pressing national issues.