BONELA wants condoms in prisons after ruling

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The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) has asked the Botswana Prison Service commissioner, Colonel Silas Motlalekgosi to allow the distribution of condoms in jails, following the recent landmark ruling on gay sex. 

BONELA executive director, Cindy Kelemi said they had written to the commissioner, since the High Court decriminalised same sex conduct during a judgement handed down in Gaborone last month.

“For the longest time, the government has refused to provide condoms to prisoners on the basis that their mode of sexual encounter is criminalised, because the court has made a pronouncement, we engaged the commissioner to say we now want to provide condoms for prisoners,” Kelemi told Mmegi. Previously, the government shot down the proposal, arguing anal sex was unlawful. But Kelemi said the recent court judgement means prison inmates are allowed to engage in consensual same sex relations.

In response, Motlalekgosi told BONELA that the government will look into the matter. “We wish to advise that we are assessing the issues you have raised in your letter. Therefore, any engagement by us prior to concluding the matter internally would be premature,” a letter from the commissioner’s office read.

BONELA had requested to meet the commissioner, but that might be put on hold, as the  Attorney General, Advocate Abraham Keetshabe has indicated his intention to appeal the High Court judgement.

The appeal will look at upholding Botswana’s Penal Code Sections 164 and 165, which are similar to anti-gay laws in other former British colonies. Those found guilty faced jail terms of up to seven years.

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