“They are less worthy than us, but they are better than women….” Attitudes towards Homosexuality & Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) In Botswana

  • Serai D Rakgoasi University of Botswana
  • Mpho Keetile University of Botswana


This paper presents the results of a study on Men, Masculinities and HIV/AIDS in Botswana[i]. The legal status of same sex relationships, especially homosexuality, is quite a controversial issue in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where same sex relationships are not recognised by law or even criminalised. This makes it difficult or even impossible for sexual and reproductive health programs, including HIV prevention and treatment programs, to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of sexual minorities.  At the same time, evidence from research shows that because they are neglected by intervention programs, sexual minorities become at higher risk of HIV infection and other negative SRH outcomes. Because of lack of legal recognition, sexual minorities also tend to maintain heterosexual relationships as a cover and thus form a bridge across which their elevated risk of HIV infection is transmitted to the rest of the population. It is for this reason that sexual minorities are important component to HIV prevention efforts; and also why attitudes towards sexual minorities are important.This paper uses qualitative data derived from 12 focus group discussions and 6 in-depth interviews to explore men and women’s attitudes towards homosexuality and men who have sex with men (MSM). The focus groups consisted of different groups of men and women, based on age; place of residence and occupation. Women‘s attitudes were more positive, with some indicating that some men or women may opt to have same sex relationship as a strategy to deal with issues of violence and vulnerability to HIV infection that currently characterises heterosexual sexual relationships.  Men’s attitudes on the other hand tended to be overly negative, preferring to view MSM as un-natural, shameful and an abomination. However, even among men, there were those who held less conservative view. However, even among these men, they felt that MSM were not real men like themselves, and that they can only earn the trust; respect and ultimately acceptance of heterosexual men by distinguishing themselves and demonstrating that they have the same character as other men, such as bravery and dependability 


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Author Biographies

Serai D Rakgoasi, University of Botswana
Department of Population Studies15
Mpho Keetile, University of Botswana
Department of Population Studies