21 November 2017

Botswana: Progressive Botswana Court Affirms That Legal Recognition of Gender Identity At Core of Human Dignity

analysis

For the second time in two years, the Botswana courts have shown themselves to be champions of jurisprudence which acknowledges the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their right to equal protection before the law. By TASHWILL ESTERHUIZEN.

Identity plays a pivotal role in many activities that comprise our daily lives. Identity documents not only grant us access to routine services in the spheres of healthcare, social security and employment, but allow us to live with dignity.

For many of us, obtaining an identity document that correctly reflects our particulars is a relatively easy process. For transgender persons throughout Africa, however, the road to obtaining an identity document that matches their expressed gender is literally impossible. This exposes transgender people to ongoing stigma and discrimination and essentially denies their human dignity.

In the groundbreaking case of ND v Attorney General of Botswana and others, the Lobatse High Court in Botswana took a significant step towards protecting the dignity of transgender people. The court ordered the Registrar to change the gender marker on the identity document of a transgender man from female to male.

The court acknowledged that lack of recognition of gender identity exposes transgender persons to...

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