Botswana’s leading LGBTI rights group has been denied the legal registration it is seeking to ease fund-raising for its fight against the AIDS epidemic.
The news website Mamba Online reported that Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), “first applied for registration with the registrar of societies in 2005 and was promptly refused. LEGABIBO re-applied in February this year but it was again rejected.”
The organisation and its allied Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) are seeking a review of the decision.
Without registration, they said, LEGABIBO will have difficulty raising funds to help fight the HIV epidemic.
Reasons given for the rejection:
- The country’s constitution does not recognize homosexuality.
- Organizations should not be registered if they are “likely to be used for any unlawful purpose or any purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare or good order in Botswana.”
Counter arguments, as described by Mamba Online:
- “Homosexuality is not illegal per-se in Botswana and … is recognised by the country’s Employment Act, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
- President Seretse Khama Ian Khama said in 2010, “I don’t think being gay is illegal ….they can fully participate in society like everyone else … being gay is private.”
Homosexual activity in Botswana can be prosecuted under a law against “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” which carries a punishment of up to seven years in prison. LEGABIBO is seeking to have that law declared unconstitutional.