Botswana To Decide This Summer On The Penal Code's Gay Sex Ban

It looks like another African country has decided to hold off on decriminalizing homosexuality along with Kenya.

According to Reuters, the nation of Botswana has announced that it will postpone arguments over decriminalizing gay sex. Currently, Botswana’s Penal Code bans "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” and “indecent practices between persons.” Anyone convicted of this could face up to seven years in jail.

But now, a gay man named Letsweletse Motshidiemang will argue against this law in the High Court. The man filed a case back in May 2018 not only attempts to legalize gay sex, but earn basic civil rights and services for LGBTQ people.

Citizens in Botswana are hopeful that the Penal Code will be updated to respect gay sex and LGBTQ people. The country’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi even expressed his support for the change by giving a speech in December 2018. He said that LGBTQ citizens deserve to have their rights protected. Though, unfortunately, he has not acted on those words in any political sense.

Even more unfortunate, the High Court has now decided to postpone the ruling.

On Thursday, Judge Abednico Tafa told a packed courtroom at the capital city Gaborone that the decision would be made on June 11 after a one-day hearing.

This was after hearing Motshidiemang’s lawyer, George Lekgowe, argue that the law needed to be updated.

“When the laws were put in place... society was not ready to accept same sex relations,” Lekgowe stated before adding how Botswana has become increasingly receptive of LGBTQ life.

That said, there is still some oppostition to homosexuality, as expressed by opposing lawyer Sidney Pilane.

“The law should reflect on the values of society. As far as I know there haven’t been any changes in society towards gay people,” Pilane said.

Many are disappointed by this postponement as the ruling could have been a rare win for LGBTQ rights in Africa.

"Botswana is a diverse society and the constitution protects the freedoms and dignity of all persons in Botswana, regardless of whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex," said Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana chief executive officer Anna Mmolai-Chalmers.

h/t: Reuters

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