In a watershed moment for transgender rights in Botswana, a trans man has won a 10-year battle to have his correct gender identity reflected on his official birth certificate.
The man—who cannot be identified for legal reasons—said the decision made by the Botswana High Court was an “immense relief”.
“I am hopeful that other persons who find themselves in a similar situation will be dealt with in a more respectful manner when they apply for new identity cards,” he told Reuters.
The man’s lawyer—Tshiamo Rantao—said the win will have a significant impact on transgender people in Botswana who are fighting for the right to have their gender identity recognised.
“This is a great victory for the transgender community because many more have been fighting the gender marker battle for years,” Rantao said.
He added that the decision boded well for a transgender woman—Tshepo Ricki Kgositau—who is due to appear at the High Court in December.
“Surely the judge who will be presiding over Kgositau’s case will have to refer to this judgment.”
Eyewitness News reports that Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa found that the plaintiff’s rights to “dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equality and freedom from discrimination and inhumane and degrading treatment.”
While same-sex sexual activity is criminalised in Botswana, LGBT+ rights have improved in the past few years. Legislation was introduced in 2010 that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
Human Rights Watch has praised the decision and the effectiveness of the country’s justice system.
“This recent High Court judgment affirms trans people’s right to have the gender they identify with legally recognised.
“It also shows the value of independent courts in Botswana acting to uphold the rights of minority groups,” the organisation said.