The government had tried to overturn the verdict from 2019 that found it was unconstitutional to criminalize gay sex.
In an unanimous ruling on Monday Nov. 29, the five judges ruled that criminalizing same-sex relationships was violating LGBTQ people’s rights to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality, according to the Guardian.
In 2019, the country’s high court struck down colonial-era laws that criminalized gay sex, declaring it to be unconstitutional in a huge boost for LGBT rights in Africa.
Homosexuality was outlawed in the country’s penal code in 1965, and people who were in same-sex relationships could face up to seven years in prison, with terms of up to five years for “any person who attempts” to engage in homosexual acts, according to the New York Times.
In the ruling on Monday, the court president said that as LGBTQ citizens had lived in “constant fear of discovery or arrest” when “expressing love for their partners,” sometimes leading to depression, suicidal behavior, alcoholism or substance abuse, Africa News reported.
“Those sections have outlived their usefulness, and serve only to incentivize law enforcement agents to become key-hole peepers and intruders into the private space of citizens,” he said.
Botswana is one of a few African countries that have decriminalized homosexuality.