In Summary
  • Judge Michael Elburu "set aside" the "provisions of a Victorian era" and ordered the laws be amended.
  • The High Court had been petitioned by an anonymous person, identified only by initials LM for security reasons.
  • Before Tuesday's ruling, 28 out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had laws penalising same-sex relationships.

Botswana's High Court, in a highly-anticipated verdict, on Tuesday ruled in favour of decriminalising homosexuality, which is outlawed under the country's 1965 penal code.

Judge Michael Elburu "set aside" the "provisions of a Victorian era" and ordered the laws be amended.

In a courtroom packed with activists, the judge emphasised that the current laws oppressed a minority of the population.

"There's nothing reasonable in discriminating," he said.

"We say the time has come that private, same sexuality must be decriminalised."

"It is a variety of human sexuality," he said.

DEEPLY SERIOUS

The High Court had been petitioned by an anonymous person, identified only by initials LM for security reasons.

The individual challenged two sections of the penal code under which offenders face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

In March, the court postponed a ruling on the issue, sparking fears that the much-awaited decision could be delayed indefinitely.

Page 1 of 2