Botswana gays return to court to fight government discrimination

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

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

Botswana’s LGBT rights group will return to court this month to oppose a government move to overturn a historic legal victory.

In November 2014, the Gaborone High Court ruled that the government must register LEGABIBO (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana) as an NGO after repeatedly refusing to do so.

The court found that the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs’ discriminatory action was unconstitutional.

The government appealed the ruling and the case is now set to be heard again in the Gaborone High Court of Appeal on 15 January.

The authorities argue that they should not have to register the organisation because Botswana’s Constitution does not recognise homosexuals.

The government also claims that the group could be used for an “unlawful purpose” that is “prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare or good order in Botswana.”

LEGABIBO, which urged its supporters to wear their “campaign attire and rainbow clothing” to court, said the case emphasises “the fundamental importance of the rights to freedom of association and expression in a democracy.”

While homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Botswana, gay people 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.

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