Gaborone – Today, the Gaborone High Court delivered judgment in a case concerning the Department of Labour and Home Affairs’ refusal to register the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The case was brought by 20 individuals who argued that the refusal to register their organisation violated their constitutional rights, including their rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and equal protection of the law. They are represented by Dow and Associates.
“We are overjoyed at the outcome of the case. Lesbians, gays and bisexuals have long strived to be able to form an organisation which can support them and be their voice on matters that affect them,” says Caine Youngman, LEGABIBO Coordinator. “It has been a long and arduous journey towards recognition and we are relieved that the court has protected our rights”.
“Botswana’s HIV/AIDS National Strategic Framework 2010-2016 seeks to ensure equal access to health and social support services for all people regardless of race, creed, religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. LEGABIBO intends to work with government to improve access to health services for LGBT persons, and this judgment enables them to do so,” says Cindy Kelemi from the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA).
“The judgment emphasises the importance of the rights to freedom of expressions, association and assembly in a democracy. The judgment will benefit not only the prospective members of LEGABIBO, but any minority group which seeks to uphold its right to freedom of association in Botswana in the future,” says Anneke Meerkotter from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. “Importantly, the judgment emphasises that it is not a crime to be homosexual or attracted to someone of the same sex. The court finding is important not just for activists in Botswana but throughout Africa.”