Botswana’s government will appeal ruling decriminalising homosexuality

The government’s chief legal advisor, said he would take the case to the court of appeals
Activists leave Botswana High Court in Gaborone on June 11, 2019. – Botswana’s Court ruled on June 11 in favour of decriminalising homosexuality, handing down a landmark verdict greeted with joy by gay rights campaigners. (Photo by Tshekiso Tebalo / AFP)

Botswana’s government will appeal a June high court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality, the attorney-general said Friday.

Abraham Keetshabe, the government’s chief legal advisor, said he would take the case to the court of appeals after reading the 132-page ruling of the high court, which he said had “erred in arriving at (its) conclusion”.

Under Botswana’s 1965 penal code, homosexuality is punishable by a jail term of up to seven years.

But high court judge Michael Elburu ordered the laws be amended in a June 11 ruling that was widely hailed.

“We say the time has come that private, same sexuality must be decriminalised,” Elburu said. “It is a variety of human sexuality.”

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The judge’s ruling was welcomed by the UN agency UNAIDS, the United States, and rights groups.

In May, Kenya’s high court upheld laws against same-sex relations, shocking activists campaigning to roll back anti-gay laws and stigma still widespread in Africa.

At present, 28 out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, have laws penalising same-sex relationships, according to Human Rights Watch.


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