In a major victory for LGBT rights, Botswana’s High Court moved last month to decriminalize homosexuality. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that a colonial-era law prohibiting “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” punishable by up to seven years in prison, was unconstitutional.
The landmark decision was widely hailed by advocates who had been stung by a recent high-profile defeat in Kenya, where its High Court upheld sections of the penal code that outlaw consensual same-sex relations. More than 30 other countries in Africa have similar laws on the books, according to Human Rights Watch, but hopes are high that the ruling in Botswana will ripple across the continent.
“Discrimination has no place in this world. All human beings are born equal,” said Botswanan High Court Justice Michael Elburu, according to Reuters. “Homosexuality is another form of sexuality that has been suppressed for years.”