Will the African nation of Botswana decriminalise homosexuality in June?

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03/19/2019

Botswana’s High Court is considering a challenge to the provisions of the penal code criminalising consensual same-sex relations in the country. It will hand down its judgment in June. The challenge raises similar legal issues as the one pending at the Kenya High Court, which is due for a decision in May. Same sex relations are outlawed under Botswana’s penal code. These prohibitive sections were inherited from the colonial penal code of Bechuanaland, as Botswana was then known. Section 164 prohibits “unnatural offences” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. The section prohibits oral and anal sex for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Those found to have broken this law face up to seven years in prison. Attempting to engage in unnatural offences is also illegal and offenders can spend up to five years in prison under Section 165.

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