The Botswana Court of Appeal, through Judge President Ian Kirby, on 29th November 2021, issued a monumental judgment to decriminalize consensual sex between same-sex partners. This after the organization Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) provided evidence to the court on how laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relationships perpetuate and increase discrimination and stigma reinforcing the already existing societal prejudice and profoundly injuring LGBTIQ persons’ fundamental dignity.
Thato Moruti the CEO LEGABIBO said, “Today is a momentous day in history, a victorious win in ascertaining liberty, privacy and dignity for LGBTIQ persons in Botswana and definitely this judgment sets precedence for the world at large. This is a new dawn for better education, awareness about LGBTIQ issues. I anticipate that more engagement with various arms of government will also set a trajectory towards a more inclusive and diverse nation.”
“For me to have this judgment in my lifetime is an important milestone, a relief and an indication that people’s civil liberties are taken seriously. I hope the Parliament of Botswana will learn from the judiciary and take the necessary steps to institute legislation that protects the LGBTIQ community from any kind of violence.” Caine Youngman the head of Policy and Legal Advocacy at LEGABIBO said.
Congratulatory messages continue to pour into Bostwana for the LGBTIQ community after the historical win.
UNAIDS welcomed the decision to uphold the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual acts. According to the organization, the removal of harmful criminal laws is essential to reducing inequalities, protecting fundamental human rights and end AIDS by 2030.
“This is a historic ruling for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Botswana,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i. “It restores privacy, respect and dignity to the country’s LGBT people, and it is a day to celebrate pride, compassion and love. I commend the activists, civil society organizations and community groups that have campaigned so hard for this moment.”
“I hope that this decision reflects a move towards a more humane, compassionate and rights-based approach towards same-sex relations worldwide. It should encourage other countries to repeal unjust laws that criminalize same-sex sexual relations and block people’s access to essential services, including to health care,” said Ms Carlsson.
The Uganda Key Populations Founder and Coordinator Richard Lusimbo took to Twitter to convey his message. “Thank you Botswana for once again telling the world that love is love.”
The decision by the Botswana court of Appeal is only the second by an apex court in Africa to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. The previous decision was from the South African Constitutional court in 1999. Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in at least 67 countries worldwide.