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Botswana agrees to recognise transgender man in landmark case

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Botswana has agreed to recognise a transgender man’s identity after a historic court ruling earlier this year, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) confirmed on Tuesday.

The registrar of the southern African nation said it will supply the man – identified only as ND due to a court order – with a new official identity document declaring him as male, later this month.

The High Court of Botswana had ordered the state recognise ND’s gender but it later emerged that the nation’s registrar was planning to appeal, throwing the case off course. But the SALC said the registrar has now reversed its decision to appeal.

The court’s verdict was described as ‘progressive’, especially for Botswana – where for transgender people, the road to obtaining an identity document is near impossible.

“They [national registrar] have subsequently decided they will not appeal,” Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director of SALC told Mambaonline. “So, the high court decision stands.”

ND spoke of his relief after his ten-year legal battle finally came to an end. “Closure has never felt this sweet,” he said.

“To live years in a mistaken identity is beyond the unthinkable. I am excited to finally move on with my life. I hope that many others in my position would have a similar opportunity to live their life with dignity.”

The SALC which works to advance the rights of marginalised and vulnerable groups and to strengthen the rule of law said the victory was ‘monumental’ for transgender people in the region.

“The judge’s finding that the refusal to change a transgender person’s identity documents violates constitutional rights, goes a long way in improving the lives of transgender persons”, said SALC representative Tashwill Esterhuizen.

President Ian Khama's government has repeatedly stood against LGBT rights (Getty)

President Ian Khama’s government has repeatedly stood against LGBT rights (Getty)

Gaborne based LGBT charity Legabibo has also spoken out about the victory and says it’s a boost for the LGBTI community in Botswana.

“It has given us a lot of hope,” said the group’s Caine Youngman. “There’s room for us to be accommodated in our own country.

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