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BOTSWANA GROUP EXAMINES ISSUES OF EXCLUSION WITHIN THE LGBTI COMMUNITIES

in BOTSWANA, 27/03/2012

Botswana’s Rainbow Identity Association has announced an on-going project that seeks to facilitate a space where LGBTI communities can strategically deliberate on the issues of exclusion and gaps within LGBTI organizing.

According to the announcement, “There is so much stigma and discrimination within the [LBGTI] communities” For instance, the announcement points to lesbian mothers who are not seen as [real] lesbians” it also examines what it refers to as “betrayals of the movement” such as, trans individuals who would not want to bind their breasts being viewed as not trans enough or femme gay men being seen as “too much.”

The above mentioned are just few examples of stigma and discrimination within the communities. Now, within this sector steps have been made to facilitate a broader conceptual understanding of why there is exclusion and gaps within LGBTI organizing.

The aim of the project is to provide space for conversation among members of various LGBTI communities about gaps in mainstreaming LGBTI rights in specific contexts.

The Rainbow Identity Association has found that within the LGBTI communities there is much stigma and discrimination and hence the organizations working on LGBTI while always claiming to embrace the acronym, do not necessarily follow through.

The objective of the project is to increase awareness among marginalized communities and share information about key aspects of concerns and initiate coalition building across political and geographical boundaries in Botswana (mainly Gaborone).

On the existence of exclusion, McIntyre Luke, a self identifying gay man said “I personally have seen the discrimination. It is most commonly found at parties/sessions of gay men. The masculine gay men do not or hardly want to associate with the femme gay men because they think the femme degrade them. This tends to separate the group as the masculine gays feel been a bottom is like being the weakest link in the relationship.”

The project is an on-going and Rainbow identity is planning a dialogue with the LGBTI community which will be in the form of a panel discussion. This will give the community a safe space to openly talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.

On the same topic of exclusion, a lesbian mother Connie Leagetswe said, “Lesbian mothers face stigma and discrimination among the lesbian women who do not have kids. When I tell people that I have a son and I am a lesbian they get shocked and ask me how I had the child. I tell them I did not do artificial insemination, I slept with a man.”

Research has shown that self stigma is common among LGBTI communities and could be the cause of this discrimination from within the community.

According to the research, as a result of such discrimination from within the community, LGBTI people are likely to be at higher risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Max Mabaka a self identifying transgender said “the issue is with organizing LGBTI, we as T and I are just letters in the agenda but nothing at all for us. The other thing is lesbians feels threatened by Trans men is as if there is so much competition among the two groups.”

Rainbow Identity Association said this project “would explore the silence in LGBTI political organizing with a specific national context, taking feminists, Trans positive and gender queer approach, exploring ways in which questions of intimate partners as part of the LGBTI communities.”

The Rainbow Identity Association hopes this will break the silence within mainstreaming LGBTI political spaces and strategies and stop the existence of predominant influences of one group over the rest within LGBTI organizing. They also hope to critique ideologies and techniques as well as the consolidation of identity and body politics.

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