Same-gender relationships no longer criminalised in Botswana

Same-gender relationships are no longer criminal in the African nation of Botswana, after the country’s court of appeals dismissed a case from the government.

The appeal came after a 2019 ruling found laws legislating to punish individuals for being in same-gender relationships was unconstitutional saw pushback from the government, taking the ruling to the court of appeals.

Sitting judges then declared that “a democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness” and highlighted that discrimination serves not only to hold back LGBTIQ+ people but that wider “societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity.”

The five judges of the court of appeals all voted in late November to dismiss the government’s appeal, effectively decriminalising homosexuality in Botswana.

“I feel really happy, I feel relieved, I feel hopeful about our future as the LGBTIQ community in our country. I feel protected. I have all sorts of emotions, but the bottom line is I am really happy,” said Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana representative Caine Youngman.

“This victory is a massive one for the LGBTIQ community and it is an indication that the judiciary in Botswana takes human rights very seriously. It is an indication that the judiciary is willing to play their part for equality before the law.”

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has also shown his support for the LGBTQIA+ community, speaking in support of the rights of LGBTQIA+ Botswanans in a 2018 speech.

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