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Eswatini Supreme Court to hear case on registration of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities

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21 April 2023, Mbabane – On 26 April 2023, the Eswatini Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case challenging the refusal by the Eswatini’s Registrar of Companies to register LGBTIQ+ advocacy group, Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM).  


In September 2019, Eswatini’s Registrar of Companies refused to register the organisation Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM). The Registrar argued that ESGM’s purpose was unlawful because same-sex sexual acts are illegal in the country. ESGM and its members filed an application to contest these claims. They argue that the Registrar’s refusal violated ESGM members’ rights to dignity, to associate and express themselves freely, to be treated equally, and not to be discriminated against.  

The case was heard at the High Court on 20 October 2020 before a full bench after being postponed twice. On 29 April 2022, the High Court handed down its decision dismissing the application by ESGM with a dissenting opinion asserting that ESGM be registered as a not-for-profit company. 

The dissenting judgment noted that the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly form part of the fundamental freedoms of persons and that the rights “must be construed against international norms as pertains to the legal standards on the protection of human rights and in particular the right to freedom of association and assembly to which Eswatini has subscribed and made commitments to”. 

In May 2022, ESGM filed a notice of appeal against the decision of the High Court, arguing that the High Court erred in law and in fact, in stating that the ESGM sought to create a new breed of rights non-existent. 

ESGM is an LGBTQI+ group which aims to advance the protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the Kingdom of Eswatini. ESGM assists persons who experience stigma, discrimination and violence due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. 

You can find out more about the case here. 

ESGM is represented by Sibusiso Nhlabatsi on brief from Motsa Mavuso Attorneys and supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). For more information, contact ESGM’s Executive Director Sisanda Mavimbela at or SALC’s LGBTIQ+ Program Manager, Anna Mmolai-Chalmers at