Botswana High Court decriminalises gay sex

Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa’s LGBTQ movements.

The court in the southern African country unanimously ruled on Tuesday that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest. 

“A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society.

“Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” he said.

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

Under section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” was an offense that carried a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment. Section 167 made “acts of gross indecency” — whether in public or private — a punishable offense, with up to two years in prison.

The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who argued that society had changed and that homosexuality was more widely accepted, local media reported. 

The packed court erupted in cheers of joy upon hearing the verdict.

Neela Ghoshal, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, told CNN that the ruling sets a “powerful precedent on the continent by recognizing that the criminalization of same sex conduct violates privacy rights and is blatantly discriminatory.”

“The High Court is right in declaring that sodomy laws belong in a museum or the archives, not in modern life,” she said.

Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, coordinator of Legabibo, a prominent LGBTQ rights group in the country, said that the verdict would have a tangible impact on LGBTQ individuals’ daily life, saying that it would help with access to health and legal services. 

“Before we were struggling. People have been hiding,” Mmolai-Chalmers told CNN. 

“This judgement can make a massive change for our lives. This is what excites me the most. The judgement means so much… The court has upheld our dignity, our privacy, and our liberty… It means freedom,” she added.

Human rights lawyer Keikantse Phele called the judgement “a welcome development,” adding that there is still “lots of work that needs to be done in terms of access to all services, spaces and development.”

While homophobic attitudes continue to prevail in parts of the country, Botswana’s LGBTQ activists and supporters have marked some victories for the movement in recent years. The 2010 Employment Act made it illegal for employers to terminate contracts on the basis of sexual orientation, in 2014 the High Court ruled that the government had to allow Legabibo to register as an organization, and two landmark rulings in October and December 2017 laid the foundation for trans people to more easily change their official gender on identity documents.

More at CNN

Posted by

AsToldbyAda is an informational website filled with different kinds of spice to fill your daily curiosity. A quick way to credible news. It was incorporated in April 2018. Our mission is to provide the ideal platform for Nigerians in diaspora to gain a deeper insight into day to day affairs in Nigeria. Foreigners looking forward to a visit or those that are just curious to know more about Nigeria will also find a place of comfort here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s