LEGABIBO’s Caine Youngman

A group that has been suing the Botswana government in a bid to legalise homosexuality in that country has suspended its case.

On Tuesday, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) announced that it has decided to withdraw its petition to declare Section 164 of the country’s Penal Code unconstitutional.

The suit was filed in March this year by the organisation’s founder, Caine Youngman, who argued that the law violates his right to freedom of expression.

LEGABIBO said that it made the decision to withdraw the petition so as to be able to gather more support and evidence for its case, but that it will resume its action as soon as possible.

“It has been extremely difficult to obtain the promised supplementary affidavits,” it said on Facebook. “We are retreating momentarily to regroup, to relaunch soon.”

LEGABIBO explained that “we can’t afford to mess up now. Many people depend on us. Other countries are counting on us so we have to do the right thing to give us the best chance for a win.”

Attorney Monica Tabengwa, who is representing LEGABIBO, told the Botswana Gazette that well-known South African Advocate Marcus Gilbert will be the organisation’s lead counsel in the matter going forward.

Marcus has practised and written extensively in the field of freedom of expression.

Section 164 does not specifically mention homosexuality but bars “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” with penalties including seven years in prison.

Attempts by LEGABIBO, which was launched in 1998, to officially register itself as an organisation have been rejected by the government on the grounds that homosexuality is illegal.

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