The Botswana government is appealing a November 2014 court ruling that instructed it to register the LGBTI rights organization LeGaBiBo (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana).
LeGaBiBo vowed to oppose the government’s appeal. It is currently consulting with attorneys about what steps to take next.
LeGaBiBo coordinator Annah Mmolai-Chalmers said Jan. 21 that the group was disappointed by the government’s decision to appeal in an attempt to overthrown a decision that LeGaBiBo had considered to be a major breakthrough.
In November, LeGaBiBo coordinator Caine Youngman, one of 20 applicants in the case, said, “This is a great victory for LGBTI people in Botswana. We have come one step closer to the full equality and justice that we seek.”
Members of LeGaBiBo have been seeking official recognition for 10 years. In their most recent attempt, they submitted an application for registration on Feb. 16, 2012. It was rejected on March 12, 2012, on grounds that the Botswana Constitution “does not recognize homosexuals,” and that the application would violate section 7(2)(a) of the Botswana Societies Act. That section allows the government to deny an application for registration if “it appears … that any of the objects of the society is, or is likely to be used for any unlawful purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare or good order in Botswana.”
However, in November 2014, Justice Terence Rannowane of the Botswana High Court ruled that the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression are important values of society, and that the “enjoyment of such rights can only be limited where such limitation is reasonably justifiable in a democracy.”
He added, “The objects of LeGaBiBo as reflected in the societies’ constitution are all ex facie lawful. They include carrying out political lobbying for equal rights and decriminalization of same-sex relationships.”
In Botswana, at least on paper, same-sex intimacy is punishable by seven years in prison. But the country also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Botswana gay rights group to fight gov’t appeal on recognition (Jan. 22, 2015, StarAfrica.com)
- Botswana gay rights group to fight gov’t appeal on recognition (Jan. 22, 2015, Out & Proud Diamond Group)
- Victory in court for Botswana LGBTI rights group (Nov. 15, 2014, 76crimes.com)
- 12 grim lands, 7 bright spots in LGBTI preview of 2015 (Jan. 7, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Botswana: We might detain, deport sex workers, not gays (Nov. 6, 2013, 76crimes.com)
- In dispute: Botswana plan to deport ‘gay foreigners,’ arrest locals
- Former Botswana leader: Fight AIDS by changing anti-gay laws
- Botswana chiefs: ‘Homosexuality has always been here’
- Botswana again rejects LGBT anti-AIDS group