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Botswana Decriminalizes Gay Sex With Historic Ruling

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Botswana’s high court decriminalized homosexuality, tossing out a 55-year-old law that punished gay sex with up to seven years in prison.

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” Judge Michael Leburu said in making his judgment, according to the New York Times.

“Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

The ruling thrilled LGBTQ activists in the developing African nation.

“We still can’t believe what has happened,” Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, chief executive for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, told the Times.

“We are proud of our justice system for seeing the need to safeguard the rights of the LGBT community.”

A student brought the legal case to the Botswana court, and has only been identified in docuemnts by the initials L.M. Attorneys for L.M. read a statement from their client stressing the case was about human rights.

“We are not looking for people to agree with homosexuality but to be tolerant,” the statement said.

The African nation follows in the steps of Angola, Mozambique and the Seychelles in scrapping anti-homosexuality laws, according to the BBC

Botswana law dates back to 1965, but homosexuality has been illegal in the country since late 1800s under British colonial rule.

The issue fared better with judges in Botswana than in other African nations, however.  Just last month, Kenya upheld a similar colonial era ban on gay sex.

Tags: World

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