DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, wishes to congratulate Letsweletse Motshidiemang and the amicus curiae (friend of the court), Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) on winning the case to have Section 164 of the Constitution of Botswana which criminalises same sex relations repealed.
This court ruling follows Botswana’s Universal Periodic Review (January 2018) in which Canada, United States of America, Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Argentina, and Philippines recommended that there not be decriminalisation of same-sex consensual acts. This was in order to ensure equality and non-discrimination.
In January 2019, Angola’s Parliament removed a legal provision relating to same-sex conduct. It has also prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
Botswana is the first country in Africa to effect decriminalisation through the courts.
Having been a supporter and facilitator in the formation of LeGaBiBo, DITSHWANELO wishes to recall the long struggle which the LGBTIQ movement has endured and the role which it has played in standing up for the rights of sexual minorities over the years. From the onset, LeGaBiBo, worked to ‘help break down the negative image, and counter the prejudice and discrimination … facing the lesbian, gay and bisexual community of Botswana’ – Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana Human Rights Charter, May 1998 DITSHWANELO workshop on the establishment of LeGaBiBo. The Charter identified areas of concern including
The court victory is a positive outcome in the recognition of LGBTIQ persons in Botswana. However, above all else, it is recognition of the dignity of every human being, regardless of orientation or identity, in Botswana.
DITSHWANELO recognises the role the court plays in the protection of human rights and the dignity of individuals before the law. We support the independence of the Judiciary as it acts to strengthen the dignity of all persons.
We call on the legislature to review the laws of the country to bring them in line with the protection of the rights and dignity of all persons. We also call on the Government of Botswana to resource and intensify public education on the rights of all persons.
We continue to call on the people of Botswana to engage with those they view as different, by using our value concept of botho as a guiding principle. Botho recognises and encourages recognition and respect of dignity and the humanity of all persons.