Botswana Decriminalizes Homosexuality

(US News  )Botswana’s high court overturned a law criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships.

In a landmark decision for the country’s LGBTQ community, the high court ruled that the colonial-era law, which imposed up to seven years in prison for homosexuality, was unconstitutional.

The three-judge court ruled unanimously to overturn the law, with Judge Michael Elburu delivering the verdict. Elburu called the laws discriminatory.

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” BBC quoted Elburu as saying. “Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

The case was brought before the court in March by a student who said that society had changed and homosexuality was more widely accepted.

The law traces back to 1965 when it was brought to Botswana by the colonial British government.

“It has taken a long time for our community to be where it is,” said Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, CEO of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, an organization supporting the country’s LGBTQ community. “This incredibly life-changing decision, although it does not right all the wrongs done to individual members of the LGBT community, is a step towards restoring our dignity as human beings.”

Although Botswana is one of several countries recently to decriminalize homosexuality, LGBTQ supporters were disappointed last month when Kenya’s court upheld its laws criminalizing homosexuality.

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