BOSTWANA: BONELA TO FIGHT GOV’T OVER ‘GAY’ RIGHTS

Salc : Staff Writer

The newly appointed Director at Botswana Network Of Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), Uyapo Ndadi is set to fight it out with government in court over section 164 of the Penal Code, which criminalises same sex relationships.

Section 164 of the Penal Code defines it as “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature…, carnal knowledge of animals or permits carnal knowledge of him/her against the order of nature…”Homosexuality is regarded as abominable and sinful, it is perceived as a crime and homosexual sex is punishable with a possible jail sentence if convicted.

During a press conference, Ndadi said that in order to address social ills that society faces, the government should include all social groups including lesbians and homosexuals in Botswana. He said being homosexual in Botswana, as in many African countries, is not easy as homosexual sex is considered criminal and renders gays in the country, a very vulnerable group, frequently exposed to discrimination, aggression and abuse by the community and sometimes even by their own families.

BONELA will be following in the footsteps of other rights groups, which have been fighting their governments to repeal the law as discriminatory.

Last year an Indian court ruled that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults is not a criminal act.

The ruling overturned a 148-year-old colonial law, which describes a same-sex relationship as an “unnatural offence”.

Prior to this ruling homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.Many people in India regard same-sex relationships as illegitimate.

Rights groups have long argued that the law contravened human rights. Delhi’s High Court ruled that the law outlawing homosexual acts was discriminatory and a “violation of fundamental rights”.

The court said that a statute in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines homosexual acts as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and made them illegal, was an “antithesis of the right to equality”.

Other rights groups in African countries such as Malawi are at cross roads with their governments over criminalising of same sex relationships