Botswana court’s ruling of decriminalising same-sex relationships came as a welcoming move, especially for gay rights campaigners who expressed joy at the decision. The court upheld the ruling saying that Botswana’s judiciary will set an example for other African countries.
The ruling is hailed as a major triumph for gay rights activists that was appealed in 2019 by the government. The move was followed by the unsuccessful attempt at Kenya to revoke the colonial-era laws on same-sex relationships.
The decision came out with a unanimous ruling made by five judges who mentioned that criminalization of same-sex relationships was a violation of the LGBTIQ constitutional rights of individuals to privacy, liberty, dignity, and equality.
“Those sections have outlived their usefulness, and serve only to incentivise law enforcement agents to become key-hole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens,” said Appeal judge president Ian Kirby, who read the ruling.
Before the official ruling in Botswana, a gay-sex relationship was punishable by up to seven years in jail.
The head of policy and legal advocacy for the Lesbians organization, Caine Youngman expressed his joy by adding how happy and relieved he feels. He added that he feels hopeful for the future of the LGBTIQ community in Botswana.
He also stated that the triumph is a massive one and is also an indication that the Botswana judiciary considers human rights seriously and is willing to play its role in the equality of the people before the law.
The Botswana LGBTQ community has gained the support of their President, Mokgweetsi Masisi who mentioned in his speech in 2018 that just like all other citizens, gay people deserve equal rights too.
While homosexuality is illegal in many other African countries, the Botswana ruling is an example for the entire continent.