Botswana gay group re-applies for registration

Members of Legabibo outside the Gaborone High Court (Pic: Facebook)

Members of Legabibo outside the Gaborone High Court (Pic: Facebook)

Following its stunning court victory, Botswana’s only LGBT rights group has re-applied to be registered as an NGO by the government.

Two weeks ago, the Botswana High Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to continue to refuse to recognise Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (Legabibo).

On Tuesday, Legabibo Co-ordinator, Caine Youngman, told Sapa that the group was in the process of finalising the paperwork to re-apply to the registrar of societies on Wednesday.

Youngman said that the court order would be attached with the application.

While Youngman is confident of the application’s success, the Botswana government has yet to confirm if it will appeal the ruling.

Last week, Minister of Labour & Home Affairs Edwin Batshu, said: “I am still studying the judgment before I can take any decision.”

The state had insisted that it could not register the group as the Constitution “does not recognise homosexuals” and because the organisation could be used for an “unlawful purpose.”

Legabibo argued, however, that the refusal was clearly discriminatory and violated its members’ right to freedom of association, assembly, and expression.

Justice Terence Rannowane agreed, and ruled that Legabibo’s aims, according to its constitution, are all lawful.

While gay sex is not specifically outlawed in Botswana, it could be prosecuted under Section 164 of the Penal Code that bars “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” with penalties including seven years in prison.

There are no laws stopping gay and lesbian people from identifying as such, from forming organisations to lobby for their rights or barring them from speaking out for equality.

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