By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
New Africa Business News, Freetown, Sierra Leone- New Africa Business News has being following Courts in Africa on Colonial era laws in the Continent, including sodomy laws, that are affecting millions. The High Court in Botswana found in a unanimous decision that, the nations “sodomy laws” violate privacy, liberty and dignity; are discriminatory, and serve no public interest.
“sexual orientation is not a fashion statement”, said the judges. “It’s an important attribute of one’s personality. All people are entitled to autonomy over their sexual expression”.
They noted that “Public opinion in cases like this is relevant but not decisive. This is about fundamental rights more than public view”.
The court added that, sodomy laws belongs “in the museum or the achieves”, and should not give present-day life.
Botswana is the latest country in Africa to decriminalize same sex relations, following Angola in January 2019, Seychelles in June 2016, Mozambique in June 2015 and Sao Tome and Principe, and Lesotho in 2012.
However, another 29 countries in Africa retain laws criminalizing same-sex relations, including Kenya where a law banning gay sex was upheld by the Kenyan High Court in May, 2019.
“With this ruling, Botswana has said ‘no’ to intolerance and hate and ‘yes’ to hope and equality for all people”, said Muleya Mwanayanda Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“For far too long, people entering same-sex relationships in Botswana were discriminated against by the very same laws that are supposed to protect them.
This court decision marks an exciting new era of acceptance, which should inspire other African countries to follow suit”.
Said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Right Watch: “The court ruling is victory both for LGBT people in Botswana and for LGBT people and their advocates through Africa”.
Prior to independence in 1966, Botswana was part of Bechuanaland , a British Protectorate and the country’s anti-homosexuality laws are a legacy of British imperialism.
Many countries around the world retain similar colonial era provisions targeting LGBT people.
“Botswana’s High Court has provided a ray of hope to millions around the word who live in Jurisdictions that criminalize same- sex conduct”, said Ghoshal.
“Botswana’s government should embrace this ruling and affirm the full personhood of its LGBT population”.
For New Africa Business News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent