Homosexuals in Botswana through their organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals ofBotswana (LEGABIBO) held their annual film festival in order to show how they are treated in different countries on Tuesday. Gays around the world have always been persecuted for their sexual orientation, with gays in most African societies considered untraditional. This has led to their persecution in many different countries.
The films that were being shown depicted how African heterosexuals treat the gay community, and it was painful to watch. Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) - an organisation representing some churches in Botswana - is openly discriminating against homosexuals. EFB considers homosexuality an unnatural act of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God despised. When getting to the film festival with my colleagues who were straight men, they were not sure of what to expect there, but rather came back hard-hit by the fact that they might not have been treating gay people right. The films showed that lesbians and gays do have little control as to how they turn out to be, with their characteristics always having been shown at a younger age. They managed to depict the prejudice, stigma and discrimination stemming from negative social attitudes towards homosexual people.
The festival was dubbed Bana ba Lorato (Children of Love) in which the chairperson of LEGABIBO Anna Mmolai-Chalmers said this is to show that despite all that they go through, they are a loving community. The film festival started three years ago as a way of communicating to people around the world and in Botswana about who homosexuals are, their challenges and successes. She expressed sincere gratitude for the Canadian Embassy which has been sponsoring them, and also thanking the parents, friends and all the people who have accepted them for who they are. One of the true stories played was that of a Lesotho gay man who was attacked by thugs who asked for his phone, and money, but later became aggressive when they learnt that he is gay, calling him ‘setabane’, in which they endlessly beat him up. He was rescued by his sister who although he had never openly disclosed his sexuality, understood that her brother could be gay. His parents do not talk about it since he never openly disclosed it to them either. The sister said she realised that his brother might be gay when they were growing up, because he has always been into spending time with girls.
The other story was that of two Kenyan girls who were dating in school, but at home parents forced one of them to wear dresses while teachers at school berated them for spending so much time together. Eventually the other girl was suspended and ended up having sex with a man in an attempt to change her sexual orientation. But it turned out to be a dreadful experience that she regretted. This led to her losing her lesbian girlfriend when she told her what had happened.
One of the straight guys who attended the film festival shared his feelings about the films shown. “This has shown me that these people are just normal like us and we've got no right to attack them in any way for the choices that they have made about their lives. I used to be intolerant of them but this has moved me because I really understand how they feel about the things we say to them and the attitude we sometimes give them, especially us men,” he said.