Homosexuals in Africa are actively persecuted, but a landmark ruling by a Botswana court has recognised a transgender woman as officially female. Picture: Reuters/Andrea Comas

Johannesburg – Homosexuals in Africa receive little tolerance at best and are actively persecuted at worst, but a landmark ruling by a Botswana court has recognised a transgender woman as officially female, Reuters reports.

Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, the executive director of South African-based Gender Dynamix, an organisation that advocates for the human rights of transgender and gender-variant people, had sued Botswana for refusing to change the gender on her identity document from male to female

Botswana, a conservative southern African nation of 2 million people, has been reluctant to fully acknowledge the rights of the country’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

So when Justice Leatile Dambe on Tuesday ordered that Kgositau’s gender be changed to female in the national registry within seven days, a major victory was achieved by the LGBT community.

Kgositau had argued before the court that since an early age she had identified as a woman and that the male identity on her document was causing her emotional distress and increased her vulnerability to abuse and violence.

This argument was supported by evidence from her family in addition to psychological and medical evidence to the effect that her “innate gender identity is, and has since an early age, always been female and that her family has embraced her and loved her as a woman”.

A previous government ban on a gay rights lobbying group was overturned by a judge in 2014. However, the judge emphasised that it was still illegal to engage in homosexual acts.