Botswana Decriminalizes Same-Sex Relations

Botswana just voted to decriminalize same-sex relations.

The country’s high court made the unanimous ruling on June 11, deeming the law “unconstitutional” and “discriminatory”

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized…” Judge Michael Elburu, who delivered the verdict, stated. Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

The law had carried a maximum sentence of seven years in prison for same-sex relations and had roots in a British colonial law imposed in 1965. It was challenged by a college student in March who claimed society has changed since the law was first instituted and same-sex relationships are more widely accepted.

Activists in Botswana say the new ruling provides them with a sense of peace and opens the door to better access to health care for LGBTQ+ patients.

Prior to the ruling, the country had passed several laws to protect to LGBTQ+ community from discrimination. Some activists say they hope the ruling paves the way for other African nations.

“This judgement, which comes less than three weeks after a deeply regressive decision on the same issue from the Kenya high court, is legally sound, groundbreaking and is a ray of hope for all those LGBT Africans looked to their legal systems for justice and fair treatment,” The Human Dignity Trust’s Director Téa Braun told The Guardian