Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Botswana LGBTI Resources

(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)


While there is no law in Botswana that explicitly criminalises same-sex sexual activity, the Penal Code outlines the following offences linked to so-called ‘unnatural’ and ‘indecent’ practices:

Section 164. Unnatural offences. Any person who-

(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; [or][…]

(c) permits any other person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,

is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

Section 165. Attempts to commit unnatural offences. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in Section 164 is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Section 167. Indecent practices between persons. Any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person, or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or private, is guilty of an offence.

The Employment Act 2010 has prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.



Kanane v. State 1995 BLR 94 (High Court)            

Botwana case of a man accused of engaging in illegalised homosexual intercourse with another man.

Molathwa v. Ashcroft, 390 F.3d 551 (8th Cir. 2004)

US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals 2004:  The petition for judicial review of his asylum decision is denied because the applicant is judged to have failed to prove that he suffered persecution in Botswana or that he had a well-founded fear of future persecution



Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Botswana and this is generally reflected in the attitudes of officials and within society. People rarely make public declarations of being homosexual.

In February 2011, the deputy speaker of the Botswana National Assembly, Pono Moatlhodi, aligned himself with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in describing homosexuals as ‘western dogs’. He went on to express that if he had the power, he would ‘have gay people killed’.

In the same year, Botswana’s ex-president, Festus Mogae, called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and prostitution to aid the fight against HIV infection. His opinion was not endorsed by the government, but Festus Mogae renewed his efforts in 2013 by joining forces with AIDS-Free World.



DITSHWANELO- The Botswana Centre for Human Rights

Web address: http://www.ditshwanelo.org.bw
Director: Alice Mogwe
Email: admin [dot] ditshwaneloatinfo [dot] bw
Administrative Contact: Andrew Matayataya

Plot 2732
Hospital Way (behind the Princess Marina Hospital)
Gaborone, Botswana

Tel: +267 3906998
Fax: +267 3907778

Ditshwanelo is the only organisation in Botswana that deals with human rights and works to advocate for changes in law, policies and practices, and to raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities. Ditshwanelo focuses on gender equality or the rights of those affected by HIV/AIDS, and provides paralegal services to those earning less than minimum wage.



No Country of Origin Specialists are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.


Researched by: Karel Kingsley

Email: karelkingsleyathotmail [dot] com