Lambda members (Facebook)
After almost a decade, Mozambique’s constitutional court has ruled in favour of the legal recognition of the country’s only LGBTQ organisation.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that the Constitutional Council had struck down an outdated and discriminatory law used to stop the country’s LGBTQ association, Lambda, from being registered.
Despite homosexuality being legalised in June 2015, the government has continued to refuse to recognise the group, which is based in Maputo.
Repeated requests to the Ministry of Justice, the body in charge of registering associations, to register Lambda have borne no fruit. Although some previous Justice Ministers had worked with Lambda on an informal level, none had agreed to register it.
The matter became of international concern; the United Nations Human Rights Council has been calling on Mozambique to register Lambda since 2011.
The government had cited a clause in the Law on Associations behind its refusal. The clause declared that organisations can only be accepted if they benefit “the moral, social and economic order of the country and not offend the rights of third parties or the public good”.
Last year, Human Rights Watch said that Lambda’s treatment was “discriminatory” and that “The failure to register Lambda in this arbitrary manner is a clear violation of their right to association, guaranteed under Mozambique’s constitution and in international law.”
Lambda and other civil society organisations took the issue to the Constitutional Council and requested that it declare the clause unconstitutional as it illegitimately restricted the right to freedom of association.
The six judges of the council agreed and found that under the Constitution, as amended in 2004, the “moral order” or “the public good” are not legitimate grounds on which to bar any organisation and thereby declared the clause unconstitutional.
A Lambda spokesperson told the Mozambique News Agency (AIM) that he regarded the Constitutional Council ruling as “a great victory” for the LGBTQ community. He said Lambda would contact the Ministry of Justice yet again, send the ministry the Council’s ruling and await the ministry’s response.
Founded in 2006, Lamba was honoured for its work on LGBTQ equality with an African Feather Award in Johannesburg last year.