The High Court in Botswana has scrapped laws criminalising homosexuality in a landmark victory for African LGBT and rights campaigners. The judges said they voted unanimously in favour of changing Section 164 of Botswana’s penal code, which punishes anal and oral sex by up to seven years in prison. They said:
Any discrimination against a member of society is discrimination against all.
Ruling, Judge Lebaru, said:
A democratic nation is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open mindedness… societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity.
The judge further said that banning homosexuality was not being influenced by any public interest. Levaru added:
Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised.
The decision to decriminalise homosexuality came after an anonymous gay man, who is known only by the initials LM challenged the country’s penal code. He told the High Court in March that the laws limited him and those like him as they feared imprisonment. He further argued that the gay community only wanted to be tolerated.
In March, Kenya High Court ruled against decriminalising homosexuality. Botswana becomes one of a few African countries to allow homosexuality. Angola decriminalised homosexuality on January 23.