Bridging the Gaps: Botswana
Bridging the Gaps: Botswana
Bridging the Gaps is alliance of nine international organisations and networks and more than 80 local and regional organisations, working towards the end of the AIDS epidemic among key populations.
Supported by global and regional level work, Bridging the Gaps works with over 80 partner organisations in 15 countries in three regions:
• Sub-Sahara Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
• South East Asia: Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam.
• Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
In Botswana, the programme works with, and for the health and human rights of, LGBT people, including those living with HIV.
Bridging the Gaps partners in Botswana work towards ending AIDS among key populations through (1) a strengthened civil society that holds government to account; (2) increased fulfilment of human rights of key populations; and (3) increased SRHR and fewer infections.
Through innovation and by building on previous work in Botswana, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. Facilitate community development, by:
• Involving partners in a regional participatory community needs assessment for evidence-based interventions and advocacy.
• Building the capacity of local research coordinators
• Empoweingr LGBT people through community building initiatives to increase knowledge about health and human rights.
• Developing and share lessons learnt and best practices documents
2. Advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights, by:
• Advocating towards religious and traditional leaders, organizing dialogues and utilising opportunities to raise awareness in these forums
• Building the capacity of leaders to become and act as champions for LGBT health and rights issues.
• Involving and representing the LGBT community in the national Technical Working • Group on Key Populations of the Ministry of Health
• Advocating for the inclusion of key populations needs in national curricular of healthcare workers.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services, by:
• Developing and distributing IEC materials
• Increasing knowledge on safer sex practices among LGBT people (through peer-education, outreach and workshops)
• Providing direct services like HIV testing and counselling and psychosocial support.
4. Foster global and in-country process and partnerships that reinforce results, by:
• Creating a key affected population task force
• Engaging empowered LGBT people in the PEPFAR Country Operational Plan
The Republic of Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa which is home to just over two million people. In spite of impressive gains in economic and social development, Botswana continues to face great challenges in terms of sustainable human development and poverty reduction. Same-sex sexual practices are criminalised and LGBT people are often harassed and threatened. Stigma and discrimination against LGBT people is widespread, with many in society believing homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and against traditional values. As a result, the LGBT community faces exclusion from society, from health services and from the job market. This increases their vulnerability and their risk of contracting HIV. Around 319,750 people are living with HIV in Botswana. HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) is estimated at around 13%. The HIV prevalence among women who have sex with women and the transgender community is not known.
Despite being touted as the beacon of peace, tranquillity, democracy and transparency, Botswana still has a long way to go in dealing with matters relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. In a 1998 review of the penal code, politicians in Botswana defended sodomy laws based on the belief that homosexuality represents both the antithesis of Botswana culture and a reflection of Western influence1. During this review the clauses of the penal code addressing same-sex sexual activities, were amended to also make reference to activities between females. Since then, the government has rejected any lobbying or recommendations to amend the penal code to decriminalise consensual adult same-sex acts.