A decision by the government of Botswana to block registration and recognition of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as a society will next Friday be tested before a panel of three Court of Appeal Judges
Government has appealed a decision of the High Court to allow for the registration of LEGABIBO as a society.
In their previous appearance LEGABIBO was represented by lawyers from Dow and Associates law firm and this time around they have roped in top notch human rights lawyer Dick Bayford in their case against government.
When Attorney General (AG) was supposed to confirm dates of augment, Tshepo Kgaswane who appeared on behalf of AG asked for the matter to be postponed to a later date or sometimes around 27 January arguing that the substantive attorney handling the matter might not be present. But judges did not buy his story and ordered that the matter should be heard on the 15th January.
In its papers, Government wants the court of appeal to overturn the decision of High Court Judge, Terrence Rannowane who had ordered government to register LEGABIBO as a society.
Government believes that the order which was imposed on them to register LEGABIBO as a society is in violation of the Constitution of Botswana as it would appear that government now encourages same sex in Botswana.
In his Judgment on November 14, 2014, Gaborone High Court Judge Terrence Rannowane ordered Government of Botswana to register and recognise the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as a society.
He said the objectives of LEGABIBO include carrying out political lobbying for equal rights and decriminalization of same sex relations. He added that lobbying for legislative reforms is not per se a crime.
He dismissed the decision of the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs saying to refuse the registration of LEGABIBO was in contravention of the Constitution as it denies the individuals equal protection of the law.
“It violated the applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly as enshrined under Sections 3, 12 and 13 of the Constitution of Botswana. Refusal to register LEGABIBO was not reasonably justifiable under the Constitution, “said Rannowane in his judgment.
In a democratic society such as ours freedom of association, assembly and expression are important values duly protected by our Constitution. The enjoyment of such rights can only be limited where such limitation is reasonably justified in a democracy. It is also not a crime to be a homosexual,” said Justice Rannowane.
LEGABIBO through some of it’s 20 applicants filed a case at the Gaborone High Court asking for a review of the decision by the Director of Civil and National Registration and the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu to refuse to register the organization, LEGABIBO.
The applicants were supported by BONELA and Southern Africa Litigation Centre.