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Botswana case against government to commence

The controversial case of activist, Caine Youngman, who is suing the Government of Botswana over the penal code clause which criminalises homosexuality, will be heard this Friday, 15 April, 2011 at the Lobatse High Court before Justice Zibani Makwade.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

12th April 2011 22:51

Alessia Valenza

According to Youngman, Director for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo), what is expected to take place during the status hearing on Friday is that, “both lawyers for the applicants and defedants together with the judge will review the paper and the rules applicable to see if all is in order.”

“Once that is done, the real case will begin and it will be on that day that the judge will give guidance or direction to the case”, said Youngman.

The court case was filed on 4, March 2011 by Youngman following the governments’ refusal to register LeGaBiBo yet again. It is reported that his lawsuit was announced two years ago but delays in gathering paper work for the court resulted in the case being filed in March this year.

“I never freely express my sexuality because of the law that criminalises sex between people of the same sex”, Youngman said in an affidavit.

Through the legal representation from the Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and LeGaBiBo, Youngman wants the court to rule against a section of the penal code which criminalises homosexuality presently, referring to it as the “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.”

Youngman argues that the sodomy law violates his constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression and wants the High Court of Botswana to declare section 164 of the penal code,“offensive to the bill of rights as enshrined in the constitution of Botswana.”

According to media reports, during the recent BBC World Debate held in South Africa in February this year on the topic, “Is Homosexuality un-African?” former Botswana President Festus Mogae, said he supported the legalisation of homosexually. He also revealed that during his ten year tenure as president he ordered police not to prosecute homosexuals under his country’s anti-gay laws.

In support of homosexuality, Mogae has previously stated that, “if we are fighting stigma associated with sex, let’s apply it to sexual discrimination in general.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of Botswana’s National Assembly Pono Moathlodi, recently told a delegation on HIV prevention in Botswana that he would “never tolerate” gays and lesbians.

“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 (Botswana), why would anyone choose to have sex with another man?” he reportedly said.

“Enough is enough, gays are Batswana, and were not made in a cocoon somewhere and put in this country to corrupt the Batswana’s. I need to be free in what I do. Gay people are no different from the rest of the nation and they deserve that freedom”, said Youngman.