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Big News from South Africa and Botswana

South Africa: Today the Members of Parliament voted to approve the Civil Union Amendment Bill. The legislation will next go to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). If and when it is passed by the NCOP, the Bill will then be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign it into law. Until this law passes, too many government officials continue to express personal prejudice by being able to turn same-sex couples away due to an onerous religious exemption provision that screams for this amendment:

As reported by Mamba Online:

The Bill, introduced by Cope MP Deidre Carter, aims to remove Section 6 of the Civil Union Act which currently allows state-employed Home Affairs officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on the grounds of their personal “conscience, religion [or] belief”.

The Bill was supported in Parliament by all parties except the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the National Freedom Party and the African Independent Congress. READ MORE.

Botswana: The Botswana High Court has announced that it will finally hear a case on the decriminalization of homosexuality next year: According to our friends at Mamba Online, the full bench of the court ordered that a hearing challenging the constitutionality of sections 164(a), 164(c) and 167 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual activities in Botswana, be heard on 15 March, 2019.

The case, filed by a gay man identified only as LM, was originally set to have been heard in May but was postponed due to logistical reasons. This case comes on the heels of the decriminalization case currently before the Kenyan Court, where constitutionality of criminalization of human sexuality is also being tested. READ MORE

African HRC: As over 30 countries criminalize homosexuality in Africa, with what has been a recent trend and push to enact even harsher punitive laws to criminalize LGBTQI people, the importance of and hope emanating from these cases cannot be underestimated. I have faith that the Botswana and kenyan Courts are perfectly capable of adjudicating in favor of Constitutionality. I have faith that these Courts will show they are independent from the political taint of Colonialism and the popular over-zealous religious propaganda that has yielded myth and lie about human sexuality.

I have faith that the Courts will rise to the challenge and rule justly in terms of fundamental principles that uphold their respective Constitutions and that the result will impact and influence the courageous LGBTQI communities in the remaining countries to start stepping forward for what may well be a new trajectory on the Continent of Africa. Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of The african Human Rights Coalition.

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