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Botswana becomes the latest African country to decriminalise same-sex relations

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
  • On Tuesday, Botswana's High Court overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa's LGBTQ movements.
  • The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who argued that society had changed and that homosexuality was more widely accepted, according to local media reports. 
  • Botswana’s ruling comes just a month after Kenya’s high court upheld its laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Botswana has become the latest African country to decriminalize same-sex relations.

On Tuesday, Botswana's High Court overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa's LGBTQ movements.

Under section 164 of Botswana's Penal Code, "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature," was an offence that carried a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment. Section 167 made "acts of gross indecency" -- whether in public or private -- a punishable offence, with up to two years in prison.

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Not anymore though in the South African country which recently lifted a ban on Elephant hunting.

The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who argued that society had changed and that homosexuality was more widely accepted, according to local media reports. 

Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi signalled his support for LGBTI people after a brutal attack on a transgender woman last November, saying.

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"There are many people in same-sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence for fear of being discriminated. [...] Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected."

Out of 54 African countries, at least 32 of them have enacted laws making it illegal to have gay sex, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Botswana’s ruling comes just a month after Kenya’s high court upheld its laws criminalizing homosexuality.

In parts of Nigeria and Somalia, and in Sudan, homosexuality is punishable by death; in Mauritania, the death penalty is a possible punishment. In Tanzania, being convicted of having same-sex relations can result in life sentences.

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