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Botswana becomes latest African nation to decriminalize gay sex

Botswana becomes latest African nation to decriminalize gay sex”

Botswana has became the latest country to decriminalise gay sex after the High Court struck down laws punishing homosexual acts with up to seven years in jail.

Tuesday's unanimous ruling in the southern African nation calls the sections unconstitutional.

Last month, Kenya's High Court upheld laws against same-sex relations, dealing a blow to activists campaigning to roll back anti-gay laws and stigma in Africa.

According to watchdogs, more than half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have anti-homosexuality laws, although others have moved towards legal tolerance.

Those arguing against the laws criminalizing gay sex say they leave people in the LGBT community vulnerable to discrimination and abuse while making it hard to access basic health and other services.

The court said Section 164 of Botswana's Penal Code interferes with the applicant's right to privacy and that Sexual orientation is innate to human beings and is not a fashion statement.

Earlier this year, Angola also scrapped Colonial-era laws banning gay sex while outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation earlier this year.

People in the courtroom were ecstatic, leaping up, clapping and ululating, LEGABIBO legal policy director Caine Youngman told The Associated Press. I've been out for many years.

"It is not the business of the law to regulate the private behavior of two consenting adults", Leburu said.

Tuesday's ruling led to rejoicing by rights groups that had expressed frustration with the Kenyan decision last month.

The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) also welcomed the ruling in a statement issued later on Tuesday.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi had addressed a meeting on gender-based violence, saying there are "many people of same sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence". "Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected", said the president at the December gathering.

Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, CEO of the queer rights organisation, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), added: "It has taken a long time for our community to be where it is".

While homophobic attitudes continue to prevail in parts of the country, Botswana's LGBTQ activists and supporters have marked some victories for the movement in recent years.

"It restores privacy, respect and dignity to the country's LGBT people, and it is a day to celebrate pride, compassion and love", she added. And in 2016 an appeals court ruled that LEGABIBO could register as a nonprofit.



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