Botswana Court of Appeal upholds ruling that decriminalized Gay sexual intercourse

  • Botswana's Court of Appeal on Monday upheld a 2019 ruling that decriminalized gay sex, a decision emanating sensitivity towards the gay community besides establishing the southern African country as an "admirable democracy".

  • Before the 2019 High Court ruling, which was praised by several international organisations and activists, engaging in gay sex in Botswana was an indictable offence spanning over seven years.

  • Reading the unanimous decision by five judges, Court of Appeal Judge President Ian Kirby said the criminalisation of consensual same-sex activities violated the constitutional rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality.

  • The crowd broke into thunderous applause, members of the gay community were spotted embracing each other, while many couldn’t hold back their tears.

  • "This will forever change the landscape of democracy, human rights and equality in Botswana. Finally, the state will have no business in what two consenting adults do in their privacy," Sethunya Mosime, chairperson of the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), said outside the court.

  • Botswana's penal code, drawn up under British rule, outlaws "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature". Those convicted face up to seven years in prison. It also outlaws "indecent practices between persons" in public or private, punishable with up to two years in prison.

  • Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the ruling, which cannot be further appealed as it was decided by the highest court.


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