LGBT rights in Botswana
|LGBT rights in Botswana|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Illegal|
|Up to 7 years imprisonment|
Laws regarding same-sex sexual acts
According to the Botswana Penal Code:
Section 164. Unnatural offences. Any person who-
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; [or]
* * * *
(c) permits any other person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,
is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
Section 165. Attempts to commit unnatural offences. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section 164 is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Section 167. Indecent practices between persons. Any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person, or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or private, is guilty of an offence.
Section 33. General punishment for offences. When in this Code no punishment is specially provided for any offence, it shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or with a fine, or with both.
Although same-sex sexual acts remain illegal, their prosecution is rare according to a 2004 publication.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Same-sex couples have no legal recognition.
Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Botswana. It is commonly seen as a "Western" "disease" and "un-African".
In February 2011, the Deputy Speaker of the Botswana National Assembly, Pono Moatlhodi, responded to a proposal to provide condoms to prison inmates engaging in same-sex sexual acts. Moatlhodi said that if he had the power, he would have those who practice homosexuality killed.
On this point, I would agree with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who once described that behaviour as that of western dogs. I don't like those gay people and will never tolerate them. They are demonic and evil. When there are so many women in this country, why would anyone choose to have sex with another man? The Bible does not agree with such a thing and therefore it is evil. If we give prisoners condoms, are we are now saying they are free?
Moatlhodi further said that inmates should learn that by having chosen to break the law, they were imprisoned and thus were responsible for starving themselves of sex.
In 2010 and 2011, former Botswana President Festus Mogae spoke out against sexual discrimination, saying prejudice was hindering efforts to fight HIV in a country where one in four adults had the disease. "We do not want to discriminate. Our HIV message applies to everybody. If we are fighting stigma associated with sex, let's apply it to sexual discrimination in general." He told the British Broadcasting Company that during his 10 years in office, he had instructed police not to arrest or harass gays. "I could not change the law because that would be unnecessarily stirring up a hornet's nest. I was not willing to lose an election on behalf of the gays. The majority of our people are still opposed [to homosexuality] so I must convince them first before changing the law unilaterally."
The U.S. Department of State's 2011 Human Rights Report found that, "The country has no law explicitly criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity. However, what the law describes as 'unnatural acts' are criminalized, and there is widespread belief this is directed toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. Police did not target same-sex activity, and there were no reports of violence against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity during the year."
Civil society organizations
Botswana's primary LGBT rights organization is Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo). The government has twice rejected its application to be registered; therefore, LeGaBiBo's ability to raise funds is limited. The registrar said that it could not register any group that "is likely to be used for any unlawful purpose or any purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare or good order in Botswana". In 2013, fourteen members of LeGaBiBo engaged Unity Dow to sue the Botswana government to force it to register the organisation.
- Botswana Penal Code, Chapter 08:01
- Mookodi, Godisang (2004). "Botswana". Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. p. 92. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults
- Botswana's LGBT community marches through the capital's streets to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia
- "Just like Mugabi I hate gays – MP Moatlhodi", The Botswana Gazette, reported by Daniel Kenosi, 9 February 2011
- "Sticky sodomy case has Botswana gays flustered", Sapa-AFP, reprinted on the Internet by TimesLive, 16 March 2011
- 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Botswana, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, page 19
- "Botswana Gay Group Denied Registration - Again", Mambaonline.com, 23 April 2012
- "Gays enlist Dow to sue govt for non-recognition", Sunday Standard, reported by Khonani Ontebetse, 7 April 2013
- Asylumlaw.org: Sexual Minorities & HIV Status (Botswana) — various information packets used for asylum purposes
- UK government travel advice for Botswana: Local laws and customs