While a similar debate is underway in Ghana, the Botswana High Court on Monday upheld its decision to decriminalize LGBTQI + on appeal, rejecting an appeal filed by the conservative government of the landlocked southern African country.
“The appeal is dismissed,” said the High Court in its verdict of which AfrikPage had a copy.
In 2016, the court in Botswana’s capital Gaborone ordered that laws punishing same-sex relationships be amended, calling them relics of the (British) Victorian era that “oppress a minority”.
This judgment, hailed as “historic” at the international level, was eagerly awaited throughout the African continent where homosexuality remains illegal in more than half of sub-Saharan countries.
But the government appealed against the decision in October, arguing that this “political issue” should be decided by parliament and not by the courts.
Gay Botswana citizens have long lived in “constant fear of discovery or arrest,” Judge Ian Kirby said after reading his judgment. “It has sometimes led to depression, suicidal behavior, alcoholism or drug addiction,” he regretted.
Botswana is one of the few African countries to have decriminalized homosexuality. The others are Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola and Seychelles. South Africa is the only African country allowing gay marriage, legalized in 2006.
Justice then ruled at the request of a person challenging the penal code which since 1965 has cracked down on homosexuality with penalties of up to seven years in prison.
Meanwhile, members of Ghana’s parliament continue their debate on a new proposal from a group calling for the criminalization of LGBTQI +.