Botswana decriminalises homosexuality in landmark ruling

Botswana decriminalises homosexuality in landmark ruling

LGBTQI community scored a victory in Botswana after the Gaborone high court on Tuesday ruled that sections of the law that criminalises same-sex sexual conduct are unconstitutional.

"There's nothing reasonable in discriminating", he said.

"Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised", Elburu said. Botswana's powerful neighbor, South Africa, is the only African country to have rights based on sexual orientation explicitly written into its constitution. "The question of private morality should not be the concerns of the law".

The judge added: "The state can not be sheriff in people's bedrooms".

The ruling cited the recent decriminalisation in India and also pointed out that all three arms of Botswana's government have expressed the need to protect the rights of the LGBTI community.

Tuesday's ruling led to rejoicing by rights groups that had expressed frustration with the Kenyan decision last month.

"We can finally start building a more tolerant society", she added.

Detained Lebanese national Nizar Zakka leaves Iran for Beirut
Nizar Zakka , who has US residency, flew to Beirut with Lebanon's security chief Abbas Ibrahim, the official told Reuters. Lebanese media reported that Zakka had been pardoned at the request of Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun.

The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) also welcomed the ruling in a statement issued later on Tuesday.

"This is a landmark decision that should free lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Botswana from the range of discriminatory sanctions and practices arising from these highly problematic provisions in the Penal Code", High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

Certain sections of the penal code impose a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations.

The law has been in place since 1965 when it was brought in by the colonial British government.

Homosexuality is illegal in most countries on the African continent.

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". Through their sound legal reasoning and constitutional jurisprudence, the Botswana courts continue to set an example for other courts in the region on the important role that the judiciary can and should play in protecting and promoting human rights for all persons. Of the more than 70 countries in the world that still ban same-sex relations, roughly half are in Africa.

In Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, the punishment can be life in prison. Earlier this year, Angola took similar measures, while Mozambique decriminalised gay sex in 2015.

Related Articles