Botswana High Court to Hear Critical Case on Freedom of Association

Gaborone – On 18 March 2014, the Botswana High Court in Gaborone will hear arguments in a case concerning the refusal to register an organisation; The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo). The application for judicial review of the decision of the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs to refuse registration was brought by 20 individuals who wish to register as so and are represented by former High Court Judge and respected human rights lawyer, Unity Dow. In 2005, the organisation provided ten names to the Registrar of Societies for consideration to register LeGaBiBo which resulted in the first rejection for registration on the basis of the Penal Code [Section 164, Part A and C], a response which came two years later- in 2007. It was then in 2011 that the courts were engaged on the basis of the Penal Code, a case which was then withdrawn.

As a way forward in 2012; the Registrar of Societies’ management was engaged to establish effective ways of registering as well as to provide an adequate understanding of LeGaBiBo’s ineligibility, to which another application was lodged, rejected and eventually appealed with the Minister. It is on the basis of the rejection of appeal, that court action was instigated by 20 applicants on behalf of LeGaBiBo with the assistance of the Southern African Litigation Centre and OSISA. At the roll call on the 31st August 2013; third parties interested in the LeGaBiBo case lodged Amicus Curiae (Friends of the Court) such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana and Human Rights Watch, who later withdrew their interests with the court case.

The case of Rammoge and 19 others v Attorney General argues for the protection of freedom of assembly and association (Section 13 of the Botswana Constitution), the protection of freedom of expression (Section 12) and the right to personal liberty (Section 5) amongst others. The registration of LeGaBiBo will afford credibility for the organization to engage with other entities including governments departments as well as provide social services for its membership. LeGaBiBo strives to facilitate the provision of adequate health, sexual reproductive health prevention measures and the well-being of the LGBTI community in Botswana, in especially the remote areas and members whom have been discouraged by legislature to access appropriate health

services.

For more information:

Dumiso Gatsha, LeGaBiBo Chairperson

Caine Youngman, LeGaBiBo Coordinator

Tel: 3932516 E-mail: legabibocoordinator@bonela.org