(Photo Credits: Screengrab from #LEGABIBO’s Twitter Account)
“Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”
Botswana had just decriminalized homosexuality in a unanimous ruling, after the country’s High Court overturned their two colonial era-laws. The first one is under section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code which punishes consensual same-sex relations by up to 7 years in prison and defines homosexuality as “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” On the other hand, “acts of gross indecency” under section 167 carry a maximum sentence of two years whether or not the act had been committed in private or in public, CNN reports.
Justice Michael Leburu, who read the court’s decision, explained that, “It is not the business of the law to regulate the private behavior of two consenting adults.” Further, the judge had also reportedly said, “A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness.” Adding, “Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity.”
According to the local news report, it was a 21-year-old gay student from the University of Botswana (UB) who challenged the constitutionality of sections 164 and 167 of their Penal Code in court. The student—who is currently in a relationship with another man—explained that their country had passed a labor law making discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal which means that Botswana “have become more tolerant” of the LGBT community. He added, “My friends, roommates at the University of Botswana have accepted me, even at the University of Botswana I feel free and accepted.”
Check out the netizen’s reactions online:
Botswana’s High Court has decided to decriminalize consensual same sex relations. This should inspire other African countries to follow suit 👏🏿— Amnesty International (@amnesty) June 11, 2019
#Repeal164 “is a landmark decision that should free LGBT people in #Botswana from the range of discriminatory sanctions and practices arising from highly problematic provisions in the Penal Code,” @UNHumanRights High Commissioner @mbachelet said https://t.co/RlnF2mxfAR— ILGA World (@ILGAWORLD) June 11, 2019
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), as cited by CNN, gay sex is illegal in at least 31 out of 54 African countries.