Watch: Activists cry with joy as Botswana decriminalises homosexuality

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Image: Openly/Instagram

Activists in Botswana can be seen cheering, dancing and crying in the emotional moments after a top court struck out the country’s ban on homosexuality once and for all.

On November 29, the African nation’s appeals court rejected a last-ditch government bid to quash an earlier 2019 ruling that criminalising homosexuality was unconstitutional.

And footage published on news agency Reuters’ Openly Instagram shows the moments after the judges handed down the ruling in favour of LGBTIQ equality.

Jubilant supporters with rainbow masks and rainbow flags cheer, hug each other and cry tears of joy at the result.

Prior to 2019, the country’s Penal Code made “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” illegal. Convictions were punishable with up to seven years in jail.

But late last month, the appeals court’s five judges unanimously ruled that criminalising same-sex activity and relationships violates the constitutional rights of LGBTIQ individuals to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality.


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The judges concluded “the march of time and change of circumstances” made the Colonial-era laws unconstitutional.

There is “no public interest purpose” in the sections remaining in Botswana’s Penal Code, the judges ruled.

“Those sections have outlived their usefulness and serve only to incentivise law enforcement agents to become keyhole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens,” court of appeal president Ian Kirby declared.

Botswana LGBTIQ activists celebrate the ruling

Local LGBTIQ group LEGABIBO applauded the appeals court ruling, which is final and binding.

They said decriminalisation is a crucial step to addressing the stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people in Botswana.

LEGABIBO CEO Thato Moruti said it was a “momentous day” for the community.

“The ruling is a victorious win in ascertaining liberty, privacy and dignity of LGBTIQ people in Botswana,” Moruti said.

“[It is] a new dawn for better education and awareness of LGBTIQ issues.”

The group say the Botswanan judges’ decision would set an important example for other African countries with similar archaic laws.

LEGABIBO has now called for legislation to protect the country’s LGBTIQ community from discrimination and violence.

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