Botswana court grants transgender identity change

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A court in Botswana ruled that a transgender man who has been identified as a woman since birth should be allowed to change the gender on his identity document, his lawyers said.

The court in the southern town of Lobatse ordered the country’s registrar to change the gender on his document from “female” to “male” given that he himself identifies as the latter.

The court found the authorities’ refusal to change his identity was “unreasonable” and violated his rights to dignity and freedom of expression, as well as freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.

“This is an immense relief,” said the unnamed man in a statement released by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, a legal campaign group.

“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 said.

“This is a monumental victory for the rights of transgender persons in the region,” said his lawyer, Tashwill Esterhuizen.

Although touted as one of Africa’s most democratic nations, Botswana outlaws homosexual acts, which carry a prison term of up to seven years.

-AFP

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