• bisexual(s);
  • Batswana (citizens of Botswana);
  • Botswana;
  • gay(s);
  • health needs;
  • health promotion;
  • human dignity;
  • human rights;
  • lesbian(s);
  • nursing;
  • vulnerable population;
  • well-being

The well-being of gays, lesbians and bisexuals in Botswana

Aims. To investigate the level of well-being of gays, lesbians and bisexuals (GLBs) in Botswana, how this level of well-being could be promoted and whether their health care needs were met by health care professionals.

Rationale. It is illegal to engage in same-sex activities in Botswana, punishable by imprisonment. Although Botswana’s citizens have one of Africa’s best health care systems, little is known about the health status, health care needs and general well-being of Botswana’s GLBs. This survey attempted to uncover some of these potential health care needs, impacting on the GLBs’ well-being.

Design/methods. The research framework adopted was the health and human rights approach, placing dignity before rights. A survey design, with structured questionnaires, was used. Snow-ball sampling techniques were used.

Results. Results indicated that varying degrees of distress were experienced by 64% of the GLBs in this study. The GLBs identified a need for human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) education and had concerns about their general health, discrimination against them and vulnerability to violence including sexual assaults.

Conclusions. The well-being of the GLBs in Botswana was influenced by both positive internal acceptance of their sexual orientation and negative external acceptance by society. Health care professionals played insignificant roles in the promotion of GLBs’ well-being, and could make greater inputs into health education efforts, and more significant contributions towards enhancing the GLBs’ levels of well-being. Enhanced collaboration between health professionals and human rights activists are recommended to reduce violations of Botswana’s GLBs’ dignity and to improve their quality of life, including enhanced access to and utilization of health care services.