News Release: Botswana High Court sets Hearing Date on Constitutionality of Offences which Criminalise Consensual same-sex Sexual Activities

> Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association, Human Rights, Rights of LGBTI persons > Botswana, Regional
Salc : Staff Writer

A full bench of the Botswana High Court, sitting before the Honourable Judge A.B Tafa, the Honourable Judge M. Leburu and the Honourable Judge J. Dube has ordered that the hearing challenging the constitutionality of sections 164(a), 164(c) and 167 of the Penal Code be heard on 14 March 2019. These provisions criminalise same-sex sexual activities in Botswana.

In November 2017, the Court ordered that the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) be admitted as amicus curiae in the proceedings. LEGABIBO is a human rights organisation and seeks to promote and advance the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in Botswana. The organisation is concerned with human rights, public health issues, such as HIV, and seeks to enable members of the community to protect themselves and others from violations of human rights and to live a life with dignity.

“We are delighted that the Court has set a hearing date for this really important case”, says Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, LEGABIBO’s CEO. “We respect the independence of the Botswana judiciary and we are positive that justice, fairness and human rights will prevail.”

Previously in the so-called “LEGABIBO Registration case”, the Court of Appeal of Botswana held that Botswana is a diverse nation and that all persons in Botswana, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons are entitled to protection of their constitutional rights and dignity. The Court of Appeal also emphasised that it is not a crime to be gay in Botswana.

LEGABIBO seeks to advance submissions before the full bench of the High Court on the practical effect and social impact that sections 164(a), 164(c) and 167 of the Penal Code has on the lives of LGBT persons, including how it limits their ability to access basic services and infringes on their human dignity. Decriminalisation of same-sex sexual activities is an important step towards advancing diversity of our nation.

LEGABIBO is represented by Tshiamo Rantao and supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and members and allies of the LGBTI community.