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Botswana Legalizes Homosexuality

High Court judges in Botswana have voted unanimously in favour of scrapping laws criminalising gay sex.

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In a landmark victory for African LGBT+ rights campaigners, the High Court in Botswana announced its decision to scrap laws criminalising gay sex, changing Section 164 of Botswana’s penal code, which punishes anal and oral sex by up to seven years in prison, anti-gay laws that have been in place since 1965

“Any discrimination against a member of society is discrimination against all.”

Judge Lebaru, reading out the judgment, said, “A democratic nation is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open mindedness… societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity.”

Levaru added that is is “not in the public interest” to criminalise same-sex sexual conduct. “What compelling public interest is there necessitating such a law?” he said.

 “Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised,”

The challenge to the country’s penal code was made by an anonymous gay man, who is known only by the initials LM. In a written statement he told the High Court in March that “[The laws] limit me to interact with others who identify in the same way for fear of imprisonment.”

It’s a particularly significant decision after The High Court of Kenya ruled not to decriminalise gay sex on March 24.

The fact that Botswana has instead chosen to follow in the footsteps of its neighbour country Angola, which ruled to decriminalise on January 23, will be seen as a substantial victory for LGBT+ rights campaigners.


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