LEGABIBO triumphs in Botswana court
LGBTI rights group wins right to legal registration
LEGABIBO today won the right to be legally registered in Botswana, marking a decisive victory for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Botswana. The ruling of the High Court in Gaborone sends a message for human rights at a time when other African countries are restricting the rights of LGBTI people.
“This is a great victory for LGBTI people in Botswana,” said Caine Youngman, LEGABIBO Coordinator and one of 20 applicants in the case. “We have come one step closer to the full equality and justice that we seek.
“The judgment is important not just for LGBTI Batswana but everyone in our country who wants to see our democracy grow even stronger,” he added.
“With our independent judiciary and protection for human rights, Botswana is once again leading Africa. The judgment sends a message of hope across a continent where the lives of LGBTI people have become more difficult and more dangerous in recent years,” Youngman said.
He said LEGABIBO, which has been working as part of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) since 2004, will now become an independent legal entity.
Judge T.T. Rannowane ruled that the Botswana government’s “refusal to register LEGABIBO was not reasonably justifiable under the Constitution of Botswana … It violated the applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly …”
“Lobbying for legislative reforms is not per se a crime. It is also not a crime to be a homosexual,” the judge said.
Youngman thanked the litigants, BONELA, OSISA and the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), a human rights group, for their support in the case: “We could not have done it without the resilience and bravery of the litigants, the backing of BONELA, OSISA, SALC and our supporters in Botswana and around the world.”
“Above all, I am grateful to all applicants, who inspired many with their courage and determination,” he added. Many thanks to Thuto Rammoge who led the applicants.
LEGABIBO stands for Lesbians, Gay, and Bisexuals of Botswana. Founded in 1998, LEGABIBO advocates the rights of LGBTI people – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people. LEGABIBO raises awareness, educates on health and psycho-social support and mediates between the LGBTI community and others.
NOTE: Full judgment attached
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