(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Section 4 of the Constitution (1993) confers rights and freedoms on every person in Lesotho, including the right to equal protection of the law and non-discrimination, freedom of movement, freedom from inhuman treatment, freedom of expression and the right to participate in government, irrespective of, among other grounds, sex, birth or other status. Homosexual anal sex is prohibited as a common law offence. Same sex relationships between women are not penalised under existing legislation.
We do not currently list any case law, but welcome suggestions of case law relating to LGBTI asylum claimants from Lesotho.
For the general cases: The right to dignity as a core right has been interpreted to mean prohibition of discrimination including on the basis of gender identity. In Ralekoala v Minister of Human Rights, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Others (Constitutional Case: 03/11)  LSHC 8 (30 March 2012); the Constitutional Court tied the right to dignity to the right to freedom from discrimination when it said that “unfair discrimination demeans people’s selfworth and human dignity. It denies people the equal enjoyment of rights and privileges to which they are entitled. That the right to equal dignity and worth also respects and protects the choices persons make about their own identity (see para 80). A similar position was adopted in Malebo v Mirror Newspaper and Others, (CIY7T/600/03)  LSHC 103 (09 May 2005), p. 35 where the High Court of Lesotho stated that all people are entitled to have their dignity respected.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Albeit criminalised, sexual relations between men are not prosecuted in practice and ‘the sodomy law is a silent law’. A 2019 study shows that transgender and gender non-conforming people in Lesotho often experience discrimination and violence because of their gender identity. Discrimination is experienced at work where one may or may not get employed, in accessing healthcare where they encounter disrespect because of their gender identity, among other areas in life, as well as experience verbal and physical abuse.
The 2012 US State Department report on Human Rights Practices states that LGBTI populations face societal discrimination, particularly with regard to participation in religious activities and access to health care. Indeed, although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Lesotho is high – approximately 23.3% in adults according to UNICEF data – only one HIV prevention programme to date has targeted men who have sex with men. A study conducted in 2009 revealed that many male homosexuals fear seeking healthcare.
The 2012 US State Department report also refers to incidents of violence that remained unreported due to the victims’ fear of being publicly identified as LGBTI. The report notes that the authorities in Lesotho do not show sensitivity to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Despite persistent homophobic attitudes, on 31 May 2013, the first gay pride in Lesotho was organised by the Matrix Support Group.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We do not currently list any NGOs working with LGBTI persons in Lesotho, but welcome suggestions
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list any experts on LGBTI issues in Lesotho, but welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis
Last Updated October 2021