Botswana legalizes homosexual conduct

Botswana’s high court on Tuesday overturned two colonial-era laws criminalizing homosexual conduct in a massive win for LGBT rights on the African continent.

The panel of judges ruled unanimously to strike down two laws, essentially legalizing gay sex, The Washington Post reported.

Justice Michael Leburu read the ruling in a packed courtroom, saying sexual orientation “is not a fashion statement” and that the laws violated citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination, according to the Post.

“It is not the business of the law to regulate the private behavior of two consenting adults,” Leburu said.{mosads}

Section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code previously found that the offense of carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature carried a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment, the newspaper noted. Section 167 made “acts of gross indecency” punishable by up to two years in prison, whether or not the acts were done in public or private, it added.

Botswana officials rarely enforced the ban, according to the Post.

More than 30 countries in Africa currently have laws that criminalize homosexuality, CNN reported.

Kenya’s highest court determined last month that a similar colonial-era law banning gay sex should remain in place.

Gay sex is punishable by death in Sudan, as well as parts of Nigeria and Somalia, according to the Post, which added that those convicted of same-sex relations in Tanzania could face life sentences.

Other countries, including Mozambique and the Seychelles, removed mention of homosexuality during the rewriting process for their penal codes, the newspaper noted.

South Africa reportedly remains the only country on the continent that recognizes both same-sex marriages and civil unions, and has rights based on sexual orientation written into its constitution.

Tags Botswana Homosexuality LGBT rights

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