The decision to deport Anderson was taken on Tuesday after he told a local radio station that the Botswana Government should kill gays and lesbians.
“This is to confirm the Pastor Steven Anderson, a citizen of the United States of America, has been declared a Prohibited Immigrant and as such he is being deported from Botswana,” a statement on the government website declared.
Anderson, who is a Pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, was flanked by immigration officers as he left the radio station and accompanied to the Airport where he was placed in a cell awaiting deportation. This was after local LGBTIQ activist Caine Youngman filed two police cases against him for hate speech and inciting violence. Anderson targeted Youngman during the interview calling for him to be killed.
During the interview Anderson also described the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida as ‘disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says were worthy of death’.
Anderson arrived in Botswana on September 15 from Ethiopia despite petitions and lobbying by local LGBTIQ and human rights organizations calling on the government to prohibit his entry into the country. Last month the government of neighboring South Africa gave into to pressure from its LGBTIQ citizens and rights organizations and banned the hate spouting preacher from entering the country.
At the time Anderson posted on his Facebook page: ‘I have been banned from South Africa AND the United Kingdom. I am not even allowed to have a connecting flight in London…I feel sorry for the people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana!’
Activists in Botswana have been furiously campaigning against the visit and numerous petitions have been launched. The country’s President Ian Khama told media he had ordered Anderson’s immediate arrest and deportation after the pastor’s call for gays and lesbians to be killed. “He was picked up at the radio station. I said the immigration officials should pick him up and show him out of the country… We don’t want hate speech in this country let him do it in his own country,” said Khama.
The President confirmed that the American pastor had been placed on visa-watch two days ago after he was barred from entry into South Africa but appeared to have entered Botswana before all the border posts had been fully alerted.
However Anderson has denied that he was being deported. “I am not being arrested. I am leaving Botswana voluntarily,” he reportedly told witnesses as immigration officials were escorting him out of the radio station.
“Goodbye Anderson. It helps to have manners. Now you are in a cell awaiting deportation and you have two cases filed against you,” Caine Youngman Coordinator of the LGBTI organization LEGABIBO posted on his Facebook page.
Once the announcement was made of his impending deportation social media was abuzz with posts on the topic.
“Pastor Anderson is preaching hate in the name of Christianity and I am surprised that there are Batswana who condone such behavior. What happened to BOTHO, SETHO? My heart goes out to Caine Youngman; no human being should be subjected to such inhuman and degrading speech. Minister of Labor and Home Affairs, after warning you about this gentlemen, you went ahead and issued him with a visa so he can come and hurt us in this way...it’s a shame...” Cindy Kelemi posted on Youngman’s Facebook page.
Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, also an activist with LEGABIBO, wrote: “We warned our government about you, but I guess they wanted to hear it for themselves. We will ever be grateful and sorry for what you went through Caine Youngman.”
This action to deport this pastor sends a message to him and others who help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate - this behavior is not welcome or acceptable in Botswana or any country.
Published on September 23, 2016 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization