Caine Youngman

The man behind the case against Botswana’s anti-gay legislation has angrily dismissed the belief that homosexuality is un-African.

Caine Youngman’s suit, which was filed on the 4th of March, argues that Section 164 of the country’s Penal Code violates his constitutional right to freedom of expression.

“I never freely express my sexuality because of the law that criminalises sex between people of the same sex,” Youngman said in an affidavit, adding: “In order to do so I have to cross the border to South Africa where my sexuality is recognised and protected by law.”

Speaking to SAPA-AFP, the 29 year old founder of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) said: “Enough is enough. Gays are Batswana, and were not made in a cocoon somewhere and put in this country to corrupt the Batswanas.”

“I need to be free in what I do,” Youngman said. “Gay people are no different from the rest of the nation and they deserve that freedom.”

His case is supported by human rights groups, including the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV (BONELA).

Section 164 does not specifically mention homosexuality but bars “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” with penalties including seven years in prison.

Attempts by LEGABIBO, which was launched in 1998, to officially register itself in order to access funding have been repeatedly rejected by the government.

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