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Botswana’s high court decriminalises homosexuality

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Botswana’s High Court rejected sections of the penal code that criminalize same-sex relations and impose up to seven years in prison.

Tuesday’s unanimous ruling in the southern African nation calls the sections unconstitutional.

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” Judge Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment, adding that laws that banned gay sex were “discriminatory.”

“We still can’t believe what has happened,” Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, the chief executive of the gay rights group, said as celebrations began outside the courtroom. “We’ve been fighting for so long, and within three hours your life changes.”

Today’s decision comes less than a month after Kenya’s High Court upheld similar sections of the penal code in another closely watched case.

Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than half of the countries in Africa. In Sudan, parts of Somalia and Nigeria, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.

Today’s decision comes less than a month after Kenya’s High Court upheld similar sections of the penal code in another closely watched case.

However, there are a few countries whose courts have gone the other way. Mozambique removed anti-gay laws in 2015, while São Tomé, Cape Verde Angola and Seychelles have also abolished laws criminalizing gay relationships.

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