A group of LGBT Batswana bravely marched through the streets of Gaborone on the weekend in a belated commemoration of the recent May 17 International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

The march was held by Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) on Saturday, despite homosexuality being illegal in the country.

According to the organisation, the group of about 80 participants held up placards advocating LGBT equality and received friendly hoots from car drivers in return.

“It was even more exciting as the group approached the busiest part of the city as members walked around the mall interacting with the general public and talking about of homophobia and transphobia,” said the organisation.

The march was followed by a public forum where drama and debate were used to raise awareness among LEGABIBO members and the general public on sexual diversity, the effects of homophobia and transphobia and the importance of IDAHO.

The speakers touched on topics ranging from self-stigma and discrimination to societal stigma and sexual diversity in the workplace and called for the LGBT community to “awaken” and take the movement to greater heights.

The event was attended by various organisations such as the Botswana Network on Law, Ethics and AIDS (BONELA) while the British Council supplied food and drinks.

LEGABIBO said that it next plans to meet with the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs with the intention of enabling LEGABIBO and BONELA to train staff from the Labour Department on issues around sexual orientation.

“It is with this endorsement that we hope companies and other government departments will allow us access to them and their staff, to raise awareness,” added the group.

While the Botswana Employment Act bars discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the workplace, same-gender sexual practices remain illegal, with penalties including imprisonment of up to seven years.

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