MEDIA ADVISORY: BOTSWANA COURT OF APPEAL TO DELIVER JUDGMENT IN CRITICAL CASE ON FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND RIGHTS OF SEXUAL MINORITIES

Salc : Staff Writer

Gaborone-On 16 March 2016, a full bench of the Court of Appeal in Botswana will deliver judgment on the constitutionality of the refusal of the Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration and the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs to register the Lesbians, Gay, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as an NGO. The Respondents are being represented by Mr. Dick Bayford of Bayford and Associates and Ms Lesego Nchunga of Dow and Associates.

What:            The State v Thuto Rammogwe and 20 others

Where:           Court of Appeal of Botswana, Gaborone, Court One (1)

When:            09H30, Wednesday, 16 March 2016

On 15 January 2016 a full bench of the Court of Appeal in Botswana, engaged with an issue that is pertinent to the ability of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals to form an association through which they can participate in public discourse.

Four years earlier in 2012, activists had applied for registration of their organisation, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration and subsequently the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs rejected their application for registration.

The reasons for the refusal to register LEGABIBO were two-fold. Firstly, the State argued that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals were not recognised under the protective rights provisions in the Constitution of Botswana. Secondly, the State argued that the objects of the society was incompatible with peace, welfare and good order in Botswana, thus obligating the State to reject their application for registration.

The activists took the decision to refuse registration of LEGABIBO on review to the High Court on the basis that the decision was irrational and in violation of their Constitutional rights.

The objective of LEGABIBO which most offended the State was its intention to advocate and lobby for equal rights. The State argued that the intended advocacy, which included advocating for reform of the Penal Code offences which criminalised consensual same-sex sexual conduct, would in effect popularise criminal offences. The State argued that the court was obliged to follow the 2003 Court of Appeal decision which held that the offences criminalising same-sex sexual acts, were not unconstitutional [see Kanane v State 2003 (2) BLR 67 (CA)].

The High Court of Botswana handed down judgment in favour of LEGABIBO in November 2014. The Attorney General, prodded by religious organisations, appealed the High Court’s decision to the Court of Appeal of Botswana.

Issued by:  The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC).

Further info:

Tashwill Esterhuizen, SALC; Tel: +27 10 596 8538; Email: tashwille@salc.org.za

Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, LEGABIBO Coordinator at BONELA; Tel: +267 71 340 794; E-mail: Legabibocoordinator@bonela.org

Bradley Fortuin, BONELA LGBT Communication and Documentation Officer; Tel: +267 72 450 825/+267 71 340 794; Email: dblfortuin@gmail.com

For updates follow SALC on twitter: @follow_salc     #LEGABIBOregistration