By Faith Nyasuguta
The Botswana court of Appeal has commenced the hearing of the government’s attempt to overturn a landmark ruling that decriminalised homosexuality.
In 2019, the high court of Botswana declared prison sentences for same-sex relationships as unlawful and unconstitutional.
The government now wants the ruling overturned as it believes that courts have no jurisdiction in the matter, and instead should be an issue for the legislature to decide.
“A win out of the Court of Appeal is an affirmation of the fact that Botswana has indeed moved 20 steps ahead, not only of the former self of Botswana, but ahead of many other parts of the continent that still criminalise consensual adult same sex and same gender activity”, said Ricki Kgositau-Kanza, Executive Director at Accountability International.
Botswana is just one of only a handful of nations in Africa to have decriminalised homosexuality. Other nations include lesotho, Angola, Mozambique, the Seychelles and South Africa.
In 2019, the Botswana high court rejected laws that imposed up to seven years in prison for same-sex relationships.
The move contrasted with Kenya’s recent ruling against campaigners who sought to overturn laws on gay sex.
“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” Judge Michael Elburu said.
Three judges came to the decision unanimously.
Judge Elburu labelled laws banning gay sex as “discriminatory” and added: “Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”
Gay sex can be punishable by death in northern Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Mauritania.
Tanzanian laws mean homosexuality can result in a life sentence.
On 24 May 2019, Kenya’s High Court ruled against overturning a law banning gay sex.
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