Sumaiyah Marope, Miss Botswana 2009

Sumaiyah Marope, a business student from Gaborone, has been crowned Miss Botswana 2009 despite her anti-gay comments.

During the pageant earlier this month, celebrity judge DJ Fresh asked Marope what she thought of gay marriage. She replied: “It is an unnatural act. God made us men and women… It is only proper for men to have relationships with women as God created us.”

The crowd erupted in cheers of approval, and Marope went on to win the contest. The incident was similar to one in which a recent Miss USA contestant, Miss California Carrie Prejean, was also asked her opinion on same-sex marriage.

Prejean’s response against gay marriage is thought to have led to her not winning the Miss USA crown and instead being chosen as the runner up. Her continued anti-gay comments since the event could see her lose her runner-up title.

Sumaiyah will represent her country at the Miss World 2009 competition, which will be held in Johannesburg on 12 December 2009.

Homosexual sex is illegal in Botswana, with penalties including a seven year jail term. It was recently reported that two members of the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana Organisation (LEGABIBO) have given the government notice that they will sue it for discrimination.

Prisca Mogapi and Caine Youngman intend to go to court over section 164 of the penal code, which criminalises same-sex relations.

In 2007 the country’s Registrar of Societies dismissed an application seeking to register LEGABIBO, stating that the organisation might be used for unlawful purposes.

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