Bots: Decriminalisation of homosexuality welcomed

Bots: Decriminalisation of homosexuality welcomed

Date: June 11, 2019
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Gaborone, 11 June: The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance welcomes the bold move by Botswana’s high court to decriminalise homosexuality. This a landmark victory not only for Botswana but for Southern Africa as well as the rest of Africa where homosexuality is mostly not tolerated.

 Speaking on the ruling Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, Chief Executive Officer of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), said, “It is an exciting and momentous judgement. After 20 years of waiting for the decriminalisation members of the LGBTI community get this sort of judgement. So we are really elated. It is time that the laws that do not respect the humanity of persons are removed from the laws and African court in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa should follow suit.

Dumiso Gatsha, a Human Rights Defender expressed his joy at being part of a Botswana that “leaves no one behind.”

Emma Kaliya, Chair of the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance said, “Botswana has shown that they are progressive on human rights. We hope that other SADC member states will do the same.”

“It is great that the courts have stepped in where parliament may have taken years to make this change,” noted Colleen Lowe Morna, CEO of Gender Links, which hosts the secretariat of the Alliance. “This is a triumph for democracy, human rights, diversity and the rule of law.”

In Botswana, homosexuality was outlawed under the country’s penal code of 1965. Certain sections of the penal code imposed a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations. The court said this is “discriminatory because they take away the only means of sexual expression of the applicant.”

This historic judgement comes at an opportune time during this Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transex, Intersex (LGBTI) pride month and adds to the growing momentum for the reform of ‘colonial era anti-gay laws’ still in place in most of Africa.  This decriminalisation verdict comes after many progressive court rulings including LBGTI rights organisations winning rights to register in 2016 and separate cases where a trans woman and a trans man won  right to have their gender officially recognised.

Botswana becomes the sixth SADC country to legalise homosexuality.  South Africa is one of the only countries in the world is which sexual orientation is a constitutional right. Mozambique removed anti-gay laws in 2015. The Seychelles parliament voted to decriminalise homosexuality in 2016 allowing for discourse, discussion and open non-prohibited practise. Angola lifted a ban on homosexuality in January 2019. Homosexuality has also been decriminalised in the DRC.

GL and the Alliance are embarking on a #VoiceandChoice campaign which is amongst other things lobbying and advocating for legal reform to remove regressive laws that limit SRHR access and full expression. This year, the 2019 Gender Protocol Barometer coordinated by the Alliance will again put a spotlight on the state of sexual diversity as well as other SRHR issues in Southern Africa.

For more information contact Magdeline Madibela on cell 267 72 301 854 or Shamiso Chigorimbo, Email:; cell +27825600066



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