The LGBT+ community in Botswana, and indeed around the world, breathed a huge sigh of relief on Monday (29 November) after the country’s Court of Appeal upheld the 2019 ruling that decriminalised gay sex.
Now, in a touching video shared on Twitter by Openly, you can watch the immediate aftermath of members of Botswana’s LGBT+ community hearing the news and celebrating this historic win.
In the video, which has been shared nearly 2,000 times, people can be seen rejoicing, waving flags and cheering at the result. Others seem overcome with emotion, embracing each other in floods of tears.
🇧🇼 Botswana's Court of Appeal upheld a 2019 ruling that decriminalised gay sex.
🏳️🌈 This is the moment members of the #LGBT+ community found out. 👇
— Openly 🏳️🌈 (@Openly) December 2, 2021
Announcing the court’s unanimous decision, Court of Appeal judge president Ian Kirby said sections of the penal code banning same-sex relations “have outlived their usefulness, and serve only to incentivise law enforcement agents to become key-hole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens”.
Prior to the 2019 decriminalisation, homosexuality had been banned in the country since 1965 and offenders could face up to seven years in prison if caught engaging in homosexual acts.
Botswana is one of only a handful of African countries to have decriminalised homosexuality including South Africa, Mozambique, the Seychelles, Angola and Gabon.
It remains to be outlawed in a majority of African countries including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan.
Earlier this week the Ghanaian human rights group Rightify Ghana described the ruling as a “huge win”.
“A huge win for the LGBTQ community in Botswana, as the country’s Court of Appeal has upheld a 2018 ruling, decriminalising consensual same-sex relationships,” the group said on Twitter.
“Congratulations to the LGBTQ community, especially activists and those who led this good fight.”
Sethunya Mosime, chair of the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), also commented on the community’s victory, telling Reuters: “This will forever change the landscape of democracy, human rights and equality in Botswana. Finally the state will have no business in what two consenting adults do in their privacy.”