Major victory for LGBT rights campaigners in Botswana after judges rule laws are unconstitutional.
Botswana High court judges have ruled that laws criminalising same-sex relations are unconstitutional and should be struck down, in a major victory for gay rights campaigners in Africa.
Jubilant activists in the packed courtroom cheered the unanimous decision, which came a month after a setback in Kenya when a court rejected an attempt to repeal similar colonial-era laws.
“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised,” Justice Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment. “Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”
Many other African countries are following suit. Angola, Mozambique and the Seychelles have scrapped anti-gay laws in recent years. In Tanzania, authorities in Dar es Salaam, the biggest city, have launched a series of crackdowns on gay people in recent years. In the most recent the city’s governor called on citizens to identify gay people so they could be arrested, forcing hundreds of people into hiding.
“This is a historic ruling for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Botswana,” said Gunilla Carlsson, executive director of UNAids. “It restores privacy, respect and dignity to the country’s LGBT people, and it is a day to celebrate pride, compassion and love.”
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