Last edited: February 12, 2005

Anti-Gay Laws Challenged in Botswana

Datalounge, May 4, 2001

GABORONE, Botswana—A Botswana resident accused of engaging in sexual relations with another man has filed an application in the country’s High Court challenging the state’s "unnatural sexual liaisons" laws, the Pan African News agency reports.

Utjijwa Kanani has gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of the provisions in Botswana’s Penal Code outlawing consensual relations between adults.

Kanani does not dispute the facts in the case and readily admits that he was found in bed with another man. But he says that the offense he is alleged to have committed—having unnatural sex—should no longer be the subject of criminal sanction and the sections of the constitution that bar such conduct should be declared null and void.

"I therefore pray that this court grant an order declaring that sections 164 and 167, and therefore by reference section 165, of the penal code are ultra vires to the constitution," PAN quotes Kanani in his affidavit.

Kanani is basing his challenge on provisions in the country’s constitution which prohibit gender-based discrimination and guarantee freedom of association. He says he is being prosecuted for "crimes" a woman would not be charged with and that the law unfairly restricts his rights of free association.

Kanani was found in bed with Graham Norrie, a foreign national, in 1995 after a police raid. Norrie, who was arrested and charged with indecent conduct and having unnatural sex, pleaded guilty without evidence being led in court. He was subsequently fined and deported.

Kanani claims that he brokered a deal with the police to be a witness against Norrie in the case in exchange for charges against him being dropped. But authorities later charged him with the same offense after Norrie pleaded guilty without evidence being produced in court.

[Home] [World] [Botswana]