Botswana court upholds decriminalisation ruling on same-sex activity
In an unanimous decision by five judges, the Botswana Court of Appeal upheld a 2019 High Court ruling that decriminalised same-sex activity.
The Botswanan government challenged the 2019 ruling on the grounds same-sex activity was unconstitutional and that attitudes to homosexuality had not changed. Before 2019, engaging in same-sex activity was punishable by up to seven years in prison, violating LGBT+ people’s right to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality.
Botswana’s penal code was put in place under British colonial rule. After the appeal was dismissed, the Judge President said the sections in question had “outlived their usefulness and serve only to incentiveise law enforcement agents to become key-hole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens.”
Sethunya Mosime, chairperson the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), said:
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.
The Botswana Court of Appeal is the highest decision-making power. This means the ruling cannot be further appealed.