Botswana Attorney General to Appeal Ruling Decriminalizing Homosexuality

In June, Botswana's High Court made a landmark ruling decriminalizing homosexuality in the country. Now, the country's Attorney General, Abraham M. Keetshabe, has declared that he will appeal that ruling.

LGBT activists in Botswana - and around Africa - were over the moon when  Botswana's High Court repealed sections 164 (a), 164 (c),  and 165 of the constitution. It was a major win for the LGBT people of Botswana and of Africa, especially after Kenyan judges struck down a similar motion just a few weeks earlier in Kenya. The Botswana judges ruled that the laws were unconstitutional as they violated the privacy, liberty, and dignity of LGBT persons; were discriminatory, and served no public interest. The court dismissed the provision as a “British import” and ruled that homosexuality was not “unAfrican”, a claim made by several leaders including Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, who has been publicly hostile towards gay rights.

“The time has indeed come to decriminalise consensual private sexual intimacy,” said Michael Leburu, the judge who read out the verdict. “Sodomy laws deserve a place in the museum or archives and not in the world. It is not the business of the law to regulate private consensual sexual encounters.” 

However, Keetshabe sees it differently. He says that the court erred in its judgement. In his statement, he says, "I have read thorougly read the 132 page long judgement and I am of the view that the High Court erred in arriving at this conclusion and thus, I have decided to note an appeal with the Court of Appeal." Read more via African Exponent

Govt appeals same sex decriminalisation judgement

PRESS STATEMENT by the Attorney General Regarding the High Court Decision of Letsweletse Motshidiemang vs Attorney General (Legabibo - Amicus Curiae) Mahgb - 000591 - 16

I have found it necessary in view of recent developments, concerning the above matter to release a statement on the position of the Attorney General regarding the decision of the High Court pertaining to the Constitutional challenge that Sections 164 (a), Section 164 (c) and Section 165 of the Penal Code (Cap 08:01, Laws of Botswana) are declared ultra vires (beyond the powers) the Constitution, in that they violate Section 3 (liberty, privacy and dignity); Section 9 (privacy) and Section 15 (discrimination).

The brief facts of the matter, which are common cause, are that the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a “gay” person instituted an application in the High Court challenging the constitutionality of these Sections. Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) appeared as a friend of the court. 

These provisions criminalize same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults and prescribe a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment. The matter was heard before a panel of three Judges of the High Court, namely Mr Justice Abednego Tafa, Mr Justice Michael Leburu and Ms Justice Jennifer Dube who unanimously ruled on 11th June 2019 in favour of decriminalizing homosexuality. The court rejected the laws against same – sex relationships stating they were unconstitutional as they violate privacy, liberty, and dignity; are discriminatory; and serve no public interest.

I have thoroughly read the 132 page - long judgment and I am of the view that the High Court erred in arriving at this conclusion and thus, I have decided to note an appeal with the Court of Appeal.


Adv. Abraham M. Keetshabe


5th July 2019

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