Last month, Botswana’s High Court made a landmark ruling decriminalizing homosexuality in the country. Now, the country’s Attorney General, Abraham M. Keetshabe, has declared that he will appeal that ruling.
LGBT activists in Botswana – and around Africa – were over the moon when Botswana’s High Court repealed sections 164 (a), 164 (c), and 165 of the constitution. It was a major win for the LGBT people of Botswana and of Africa, especially after Kenyan judges struck down a similar motion just a few weeks earlier in Kenya. The Botswana judges ruled that the laws were unconstitutional as they violated the privacy, liberty, and dignity of LGBT persons; were discriminatory, and served no public interest. The court dismissed the provision as a “British import” and ruled that homosexuality was not “unAfrican”, a claim made by several leaders including Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, who has been publicly hostile towards gay rights.
“If this law is decriminalised it will be a positive thing for the community because it will protect their right to privacy and their right to express themselves the way they feel,” Matlhogonolo Samsam from Botswana’s lesbian, gay and bisexual organisation (LEGABIBO) told AFP prior to the ruling.
“The time has indeed come to decriminalise consensual private sexual intimacy,” said Michael Leburu, the judge who read out the verdict. “Sodomy laws deserve a place in the museum or archives and not in the world. It is not the business of the law to regulate private consensual sexual encounters.”
However, Keetshabe sees it differently. He says that the court erred in its judgement. In his statement, he says, “I have read thoroughly read the 132 page long judgement and I am of the view that the High Court erred in arriving at this conclusion and thus, I have decided to note an appeal with the Court of Appeal.”
Should Keetshabe succeed in his appeal, it will be a blow to the LGBT rights movement not only in Botswana, but in Africa.