Botswana has decriminalised homosexuality. The country’s High Court overturned a colonial-era law which punished homosexual conduct by up to seven years in prison. The decriminalisation has been welcomed and seen as a major victory for gay rights campaigners in Africa.
The decriminalisation now places Botswana among a minority group of African countries where homosexuality is not punishable by law. Homosexuality is criminalised in many parts of Africa, and LGBTI people struggle to live a life of visibility and freedoms. Same-sex relations are reportedly illegal in 32 of the 54 African countries.
Here are African countries that have removed bans on same-sex relations in recent years.
1. The Seychelles: The Indian Ocean island state decriminalised consensual gay sex in 2016, after parliament voted to amend a penal code, which outlawed gay sexual activity. Prior to the vote, homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
2. Mozambique: In July 2015 Mozambique scrapped a colonial law, which prohibited homosexuality in the country. The penal code criminalised “vices against nature”. Homosexuality-related acts were punishable by up to three years of hard labour.
3. Angola: On 23 January 2019 the Angolan parliament adopted its first new penal code since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975, removing the “vices against nature” provision inherited from its colonisers.
4. Lesotho: In 2012 the Kingdom of Lesotho legalised homosexuality, which had been criminalised in 1939.
5. São Tomé and Principe: same-sex sexual activity is legal under the Penal Code of São Tomé and Príncipe, which took effect in November 2012.
6. Cape Verde: In 2004, Cape Verde amended its Penal Code to remove all provisions relating to consensual homosexual sex.