Botswana legalises gay sex in landmark ruling that overturns colonial law

Cheryl Sanders
June 11, 2019

In March, the court postponed a ruling on the issue after an unnamed applicant challenged two sections of the penal code under which offenders face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

The Botswana-based non-governmental group LEGABIBO, which supported the anonymous petitioner in the case challenging the sections of the penal code, has said such laws 'infringe on basic human dignity'.

"For far too long, people entering same-sex relationships in Botswana were discriminated against by the very same laws that are supposed to protect them".

Last month, Kenya's high court refused to scrap laws criminalising homosexuality, dealing a blow to the country's gay community that rippled across a continent where homophobia is rife.


Sexual orientation is innate and not a "fashion statement", the judges said.

The ruling comes just a month after Kenya's high court upheld its laws criminalizing homose_xuality.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Africa that have constitutional segregation against homosexuality. President Mokgweetsi Masisi past year told a meeting on gender-based violence that there are "many people of same sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence".

Botswana's High Court on Tuesday decriminalized homosexuality. "I still have to digest the judgement", Anna Chalmers, CEO of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), which joined the case as a friend of the court, told FRANCE 24. This incredibly life-changing decision, although it does not right all the wrongs done to individual members of the LGBT community, it is a step to restoring our dignity as human beings.


Meanwhile, in other nations such as Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan and southern Somalia, gay sex is punishable by death.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi had addressed a meeting on gender-based violence, saying there are "many people of same sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence". "Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected".

"It is a day to celebrate pride, compassion and love", UNAIDS executive director Gunilla Carlsson said in a statement after Tuesday's ruling.

Botswana is the latest country in Africa to decriminalise same sex relations, following Angola in January 2019, Seychelles in June 2016, Mozambique in June 2015 and São Tomé and Príncipe, and Lesotho in 2012.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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