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Botswana High Court finally sets date for homosexuality decriminalization case

Botswana High Court finally sets date for homosexuality decriminalization case

man standing in front of rainbow flag, smiling

Botswana’s High Court has set the date for the highly anticipated hearing on the decriminalization of homosexuality.

A gay man known only as LM filed a petition in May to the court arguing the laws to criminalizing homosexuality were unconstitutional. The High Court revealed the hearing will commence on 15 March, 2019. The court blamed logistical reasons for the delay in setting a hearing date.

‘We are delighted that the Court has set a hearing date for this really important case,’ said Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, CEO of Botswana’s LGBTI group, LEGABIBO in a statement.

‘We respect the independence of the Botswana judiciary and we are positive that justice, fairness and human rights will prevail.’

The High Court also approved LEGABIBO as ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of the court) in LM’s proceedings in November last year.

LM is challenging sections 164(a), 164(c) and 167 of the Penal Code, which criminalise same-sex activities in Botswana.

Section 164 outlaws ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’. Those convicted face a punishment of up to seven years in prison.

Section 167 prohibits ‘indecent practices between persons’ with up to two years in jail.

Botswana’s High Court

The Botwana High Court has made some historic rulings in favor of LGBTI people recently.

It also approved in separate cases the rights of two trans people to identify as their true gender on official documents.

LEGABIBO also won an earlier victory in the High Court, when in 2016 it ruled the government’s refusal to register the organization was illegal.

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