Botswana has decriminalised homosexuality after the South African country’s high court ruled that Sections 164 and 167 of their Penal Code is unconstitutional.

It was unanimously agreed that a person’s right to privacy should extend to their decision of union with whomever they love regardless of gender, as well as the “fundamental private choices including those with regards to sexual conduct”.

Sections 164 and 167 of Botswana’s Penal Code prohibited “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” and considered same-sex sexual acts “an act of gross indecency” whether in public or private.

“A democratic nation is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open mindedness… societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” said Honourable Judge Leburu.

“Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It’s an important attribute of one’s personality. All people are entitled to autonomy over their sexual expression.”

What’s more, all of the judges ruling on the landmark case agreed that Sections 164 and 165 of the Penal Code were discriminatory.

“This is a historic decision that will embolden LGBT+ campaigners across Africa,” said Peter Tatchell, LGBTQ and Human Rights Campaigner.

“It is another blow to the homophobic laws that were imposed on many African countries by Britain during the colonial era. Yet again it is the courts, rather than governments, that are often leading the way in ending anti-LGBT+ persecution. Similar legal victories have also been won in the last year in India and Trinidad and Tobago.

“The global trend is towards the decriminalisation of same-sex relations. Bhutan is striking down its anti-gay laws. Angola did the same earlier this year.

“So far, nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries now have no laws penalising homosexuality but over one third continue to do so. Despite progress there is still much work to do to ensure that LGBT+ people worldwide are free and equal.”

Botswana’s anti-LGBTQ laws have been in place since 1965 and are a hangover from British colonial rule.

Botswana’s ruling comes weeks after fellow African nation Kenya decided to continue criminalising homosexuality.

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