Botswana joins the 10 latest countries to decriminalise gay sex

Tuesday, 11 June 2019 16:00 GMT

A rainbow flag is waved during a protest against proposed changes to the constitution that would prevent future recognition of same-sex marriages, in Bucharest, Romania, September 30, 2018. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea

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Botswana's High Court overturned a colonial-era ban on gay sex on Tuesday

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, June 11 (Openly) - Botswana decriminalised homosexuality on Tuesday, with the High Court overturning a colonial-era law that punished gay sex by up to seven years in prison.

This leaves 69 countries globally where same-sex relations are illegal, including 32 of the 54 African nations.

Last week Bhutan's lower house of parliament voted to decriminalise gay sex but the amendment to the penal code still needs to pass the upper house of the Asian nation's parliament to come into effect.

Seven countries have the death penalty for gay sex.

Here are the 10 countries that have most recently removed bans on same-sex relations.

1. Botswana - June 2019: The southern African nation decriminalised homosexuality, with a judge saying "all human beings are born equal" and there is no place for discrimination.

2. Angola - January 2019: removed a ban on "vices against nature" from its penal code, which had been interpreted as criminalising gay sex.

3. India - Sept 2018: A colonial-era law ban on gay sex was ruled unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court, decriminalising same-sex relations in the country of 1.3 billion people.

4. Trinidad and Tobago - April 2018: The Caribbean state's high court overturned its law against "buggery", which criminalised sexual relations between consenting same-sex partners.

5. Seychelles - 2016: The Indian Ocean island state repealed the parts of its penal code that criminalised same-sex relations.

6. Nauru - 2016: Homosexuality was legalised by the Pacific Island country after it accepted recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011.

7. Belize - 2016: The former British colony's criminalisation of "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" was ruled unconstitutional.

8. Mozambique - 2014: Two articles in Mozambique's Portuguese colonial-era penal code criminalising "vices against nature" were repealed.

9. Palau - 2014: The Pacific Island state introduced a new penal code, decriminalising same-sex relations.

10. Lesotho - 2012: A ban was lifted off sodomy, which had been criminalised in 1939.

Sources: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Assocation (ILGA), Reuters

(Reporting by Rachel Savage, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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