Botswana decriminalises homosexuality in a landmark move

Botswana’s high court has scrapped a colonial-era law criminalising consensual same-sex relations – a big win for LGBTQ rights in Africa.


Earlier this month, the high court in the southern African country unanimously ruled that the law was unconstitutional, discriminatory and against the public interest.

Previously the 1965 penal code punished same-sex relations with up to seven years in prison. “There’s nothing reasonable in discriminating … Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised,” Judge Michael Elburu said, as reported by Al Jazeera. 

“Sexual orientation is human, it’s not a question of fashion,” he added. “The question of private morality should not be the concerns of the law … The state cannot be sheriff in people’s bedrooms.”

Non-governmental organisation The Lesbians, Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) called it a “life-changing” decision and added that it will “allow an important space” for addressing public health issues more effectively. “We can finally start building a more tolerant society,” said LEGABIBO CEO Anna Mmolai-Chalmers.

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