GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana’s High Court on Thursday postponed its ruling on a case challenging the criminalization of gay sex, which is being scrutinized by campaigners hoping the law could be overturned.
Judge Abednico Tafa told a packed courtroom in Botswana’s capital Gaborone that a decision would be handed down on June 11 after a one-day hearing.
George Lekgowe, lawyer for Letsweletse Motshidiemang, named in court as bringing the case, argued the government should do away with the law in light of a changed society where homosexuality was more widely accepted.
“When the laws were put in place… society was not ready to accept same sex relations,” he told the court, adding that now there was a song about homosexuality that was well-loved in Botswana.
Recent rulings have partially acknowledged the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) people in the southern African country, and President Mokgweetsi Masisi has signaled his support for same-sex relations.
However homosexuality remains highly contentious on across Africa, and Sidney Pilane, lawyer for the state, challenged his opponents to provide concrete evidence attitudes in Botswana had changed.
“The law should reflect on the values of society. As far as I know there haven’t been any changes in society toward gay people,” Pilane said.
The case offers the chance of a rare victory for African LGBT rights campaigners. Members of the LGBT community attended the court in large numbers, holding up placards that said “Stigma must fall” and “My bedroom my privacy”.
One group admitted as a friend of the court – Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana – argued via their lawyer that it was degrading for parliament to intrude on what happens in private between consenting adults.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than 70 countries worldwide; almost half of them in Africa, where homosexuality is broadly taboo and persecution is rife.
Botswana’s penal code outlaws “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”, with those convicted facing up to seven years in prison, as well as “indecent practices between persons” in public or private, punishable with up to two years in prison.
In 2017, a transgender woman won a legal battle against Botswana’s government to be recognized as female – a landmark victory for the rights of LGBT people.
Last month, Kenya’s High Court postponed a ruling on whether to strike down or uphold a colonial-era law banning gay sex until May.
A former male escort who slept with 150 men claims quitting sex for a year made him realise he is straight.
Dominic Hilton, 27, came out as gay to his family when he was 14 and says he had no doubt he would one day marry a man.
Between the ages of 18 and 19, he even worked as an escort before happily settling down with long-term boyfriends as a self-confessed "serial monogamist".
But after splitting with his most recent ex on Christmas Day in 2017, he decided to make a New Year’s resolution and become celibate for 2018.
Now, after a year without sex, he is ready to re-enter the dating world – but with one major difference.
Dominic, who has appeared on Channel 4’s Naked Attraction, claims he is looking exclusively for a woman as his coitus hiatus has permanently shifted his sexual preference.
The 27-year-old mental health worker, from Bournemouth, says he his not bisexual as he is no longer even slightly attracted men.
He even claims whereas before he was "quite camp" he is now "always in tracksuits".
After splitting with his ex, Dominic made a resolution to spend 2018 celibate in order to discover a little more about himself.
The 27-year-old, who has had between 100 and 150 male sexual partners, says he had never gone very long without sex and wanted to explore life without the distraction.
Dominic said: "Sex is always something I enjoyed, but this past year, that sexual attraction to men has just gone.
"If you’d have asked me in the past if a person can change their sexuality, I’d have said no – but I’m living proof that you can.
"It was a gradual thing – not like someone flicked a switch and I was straight – but now I am actively seeking a girl to settle down with.
"I’ve had sex with men, but not women, so want to find an open-minded girl I can lose my virginity to."
Dominic says he had a "couple of casual flings with girls" before he came out to his parents, but he has only ever dated men since.
A serial monogamist, he says he preferred long-term relationships to playing the field and has had four serious relationships that have lasted around two years.
Whenever he did find himself single, Dominic said he would try anything and everything to find love again, even appearing on Channel 4’s Naked Attraction, where contestants judge would-be suitors by what they look like in the buff.
"I’d grown up not especially confident with my own body, but I eventually reached a point where I thought, ‘What the hell?’ and decided to apply for Naked Attraction," he said.
"I’d recommend absolutely anybody do it, it was a real laugh – though it is difficult to explain to girls now that I’m looking to date a woman."
Describing his decision to give up sex, Dominic said: "To get over someone, a lot of people go and get under someone else, but I didn’t want to do that.
"I started reading up on celibacy and saw people talk about how it had helped their self-esteem, lessened their anxieties, given them more energy and generally taught them more about who they were.
"At that point, I was still feeling down about my break up, so I just wanted to do something to make me happy. I never imagined celibacy would change my life as much as it has."
At first, Dominic did not t tell his friends or family what he had planned, only sharing the news with them around three months in.
He added: "A lot of my friends found it funny. I remember one saying, ‘You’ll never do it.’ But the longer it went on, the more determined I was."
Dominic admits he found the first couple of months tough – but he stayed resolute.
And, after a while, the urge began to wane.
Freed from the anxieties of dating, he found he had more time to focus on himself.
"It was really liberating not having anything to commit to," he said. "Taking myself away from all that meant that the only person I needed approval from was me.
"There was no worrying about what to wear, whether dates would go well and what it meant if you hadn’t heard from them."
"In the past, I struggled with anxiety, which was what inspired me to go into mental health work, but being celibate meant I wasn’t looking to impress anyone – I was putting myself first and getting to know myself in a different way, which worked wonders for my anxiety."
Dominic also found he also had far more energy than before.
He added: "I don’t know if it was all the pent-up testosterone, but I just felt like I had ten times more energy."
The most profound change, though, happened far more gradually.
Throughout the year, he noticed he was becoming more and more interested in women until, at the end of 2018, he realised he was no longer attracted to men.
"My male friend and I were on holiday in Alicante, Spain in October, and where I’d usually be chatting about guys we could see, and if I thought they were attractive, I just couldn’t join in," he said.
"Then my friend turned to me and said, ‘You really are straight, aren’t you?’
"I’d been wondering if perhaps I was bisexual, and attracted to both men and women, but now, I just don’t find men attractive anymore. I have no intention of sleeping with a man again.
"Telling everyone I was straight was like coming out all over again, but my loved ones were supportive and just want me to be happy."
Now Dominic said everything down to his dress sense and mannerisms have completely changed.
He added: "Before, I was quite camp, whereas I’m not now. Growing up, I loved dressing in makeup like Boy George, but these days, I’m always in tracksuits."
As 2018 drew to an end, Dominic began thinking about rejoining the dating world and downloaded Tinder, where users can swipe yes or no to profiles based on a selection of photos.
But, unlike before, he began searching for a woman.
He describes his type as "pierced, tattooed, edgy girls" but also places great importance on finding someone with an open mind.
So far he has found telling women that he previously identified as gay can be tricky.
"It can really shut down a conversation. Though nobody has said anything outrightly rude, they just stop talking, which I almost hate more as it leaves you feeling dismissed and ignored," he said.
"I told one girl, and she ended up blocking me an hour before we were due to meet which was hurtful.
"A lot of people don’t understand it, and think that I am gay but this is a phase. I have no doubt that I am straight though."
As for taking a break from sex – he thinks more people should try it.
He said: "I would recommend celibacy to anyone feeling a little lost in life. Even if you don’t go a whole year, just take some time and focus on yourself – you may be surprised at what you learn."
Lots of leather, plenty of pink and a sea of rainbows: Thousands of colourful revellers flock to the Tropical Fruits Festival to let their hair down for the new year
Thousands of colourful revellers have flocked to the eclectic Tropical Fruits Festival to celebrate New Years
The eclectic event lauds itself as one of Australia’s premier events for the country’s LGBTIQ community
Donning outfits ranging from fanatic to unforgettable, Tropical Fruits will welcome 3,000 party goers
Thousands of colourful revellers have flocked to the Tropical Fruits Festival – which promises attendees a psychedelic entry into the New Year.
The eclectic event lauds itself as one of Australia’s premier events for the LGBTIQ community and sees party goers pile into the Lismore Showgrounds on New South Wales’ lush north coast.
Donning eccentric outfits ranging from fantastic to unforgettable, Tropical Fruits will welcome 3,000 party goers across the four-day camping event.
Thousands of colourful revellers have flocked to the Tropical Fruits Festival – which promises attendees a psychedelic entry into the New Year
The eclectic event lauds itself as one of Australia’s premier events for the LGBTIQ community and sees party goers pile into the Lismore Showgrounds on New South Wales’ lush north coast
One enthusiastic party goer got in the mood with a barely-there gold sarong and bra set which they matched with a platinum wig and material which had its own wingspan
Donning eccentric outfits ranging from fantastic to unforgettable, Tropical Fruits will welcome 3,000 party goers across the four-day camping event
Others chose to stay true to the festival’s rainbow roots and opted for a range of multi-coloured outfits
On the more revealing end of the spectrum, were those who chose various forms of undergarments in lieu of traditional costumes
One enthusiastic party goer got in the mood with a barely-there gold sarong and bra set which they matched with a platinum wig and material which had its own wingspan.
Others however chose to stay true to the festival’s rainbow roots and opted for a range of multi-coloured outfits.
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On the more revealing end of the spectrum, were those who chose various forms of undergarments in lieu of traditional costumes.
Another man showed off his trim physique in a pair of briefs which cheekily read ‘gang bang’ to hoards of onlookers.
Established in 1988, Tropical Fruits prides itself on being the is the premier LGBTIQ festival serving New South Wales’ relatively secluded north coast
In the two weeks which straddle the festival’s start and end dates, over $10 million is expected to be poured into the local economy
In its first year three decades ago, the festival attracted just 200 people and was held at the Repentance Creek Hall 30 kilometres from the current site
Tropical Fruits attracts party goers from all over Australia and is estimated to help pour millions of dollars into the regional New South Wales area
Locals have also embraced the event’s colourful and eccentric nature – and the economic surge it brings to the town
Established in 1988, Tropical Fruits prides itself on being the is the premier LGBTIQ festival serving New South Wales’ relatively secluded north coast.
In the two weeks which straddle the festival’s start and end dates, over $10 million is expected to be poured into the local economy.
But despite its now-lucrative status Tropical Fruits comes from firmly humble beginnings.
In its first year three decades ago, the festival attracted just 200 people and was held at the Repentance Creek Hall 30 kilometres from the current site.
But despite its now-lucrative status Tropical Fruits comes from firmly humble beginnings in a village hall 30 years ago
On the more revealing end of the spectrum, were those who chose various forms of undergarments in lieu of traditional costumes
Locals have also embraced the event’s colourful and eccentric nature – and the economic surge it brings to the town.
Beauty therapist Tracy Newton told the ABC ahead of last year’s fest that the attendees made this period her busiest week of the year.
‘I get a lot of the gay boys coming in for spray-tans, waxing and other bits and pieces,’ she said.
Tropical Fruits is this year celebrating its 30th annual event and will be capped off with an aptly named ‘Recovery Party’ on New Year’s Day
Some party goers chose to stay true to the festival’s rainbow roots and opted for a range of multi-coloured outfits
‘Over the last few years I’ve actually missed the parade because I’ve had my head down and my waxing arms swinging.
‘Once you do a good job for them, they spread the word throughout their community and you look after one and you’re looking after a whole family.’
Tropical Fruits is this year celebrating its 30th annual event and will be capped off with an aptly named ‘Recovery Party’ on New Year’s Day.
‘Once you do a good job for them, they spread the word throughout their community and you look after one and you’re looking after a whole family,’ a local beautician said of the festival’s attendees (pictured)