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High Court will rule on ending gay sex ban in Botswana

High Court will rule on ending gay sex ban in Botswana

a group of people standing on a step surrounding a lawyer in robes and they are all smiling

Botswana’s High Court will today hear arguments to end the country’s laws banning same-sex relations.

A gay man known only as LM filed the case against Botswana’s Attorney-General. LM contends that three particular sections of the Botswana Penal Code were unconstitutional.

Those sections refer to ‘unnatural offences’ and ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’. They are usually applied to homosexual sex.

People convicted under those laws face up to seven years in jail.

LM will argue that the laws which prevent him from having a consensual same-sex relationship violate his ‘constitutional rights, including, the right to equal protection of the law and freedom from discrimination, the right to liberty and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment’.

LGBTI advocacy organization, Legabibo, will present evidence during the court case.

‘LEGABIBO would present factual and legal evidence that will assist the Court in making its determination,’ the organization said in a statement.

‘This evidence seeks to demonstrate that continued criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct perpetuates stigma, intolerance, homophobia and violence against members of the LGBT community.’

LEGABIBO will argue that decriminalization is a crucial step to end the stigma and discrimination of LGBTI people.

‘Moreover, decriminalization would not only greatly enhance public health—by assisting with treatment, care and education in the fight against HIV in particular—but it will also affirm basic human rights and the diversity of the Botswana nation,’ the organization said.

Botswana slowly moving forward

In recent years the southern African nation has made some huge strides forwards on LGBTI rights.

LEGABIBO won a massive fight in the High Court in 2016 when it the court ruled it was illegal for the government to refuse to register LGBTI rights organizations.

Later that year Botswana kicked out anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson who wanted to open a church there.

In December last year trans woman, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, won the right to have her true gender officially recognized in Botswana.

Only a few months before Kgositau’s case, a trans man won a 10-year legal battle to have his gender recognized as male on official documents.