Decriminalization of Homosexuality in Botswana!

2019

The Supreme Court of Botswana came to the unanimous conclusion that Articles 164 and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code were discriminatory and violated the constitutional right to privacy. Under the criminal laws – introduced during the British colonial era – people could be sentenced to a maximum of 7 years in prison for ‘unnatural sexual […]

The Supreme Court of Botswana came to the unanimous conclusion that Articles 164 and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code were discriminatory and violated the constitutional right to privacy. Under the criminal laws – introduced during the British colonial era – people could be sentenced to a maximum of 7 years in prison for ‘unnatural sexual intercourse’.

The three judges of the Court unanimously believed that the right to privacy included the right to choose a sexual partner. “Sexual orientation is not a fashion phenomenon, but an important aspect of one’s personality,” the judges said. “Everyone has the right to autonomy when it comes to expressing their sexual orientation.”

According to the judges, the public rejection of homosexual acts was not relevant in this case. “Above all, this is about fundamental rights, more than public views. Human dignity is being violated, minorities are being marginalized,” one of the judges said.

The government of Botswana must now decide whether to accept the Supreme Court judgment or to appeal against it to the Court of Appeal – the highest court in Botswana.

COC and LEGABIBO are partner organizations and COC has also offered specific support in the legal struggle of LEGABIBO for many years to be registered as an association.

Globally, there are 69 countries where homosexual acts are punishable. At the end of May, judges in Kenya came to the conclusion that criminal laws against homosexual acts in that country are not unconstitutional. In Bhutan, on 7 June, the parliament did take a step towards the abolition of criminalization and the abolition proposal is now with the National Council for a final decision.