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Appeal against registration of homosexuals’ body this Friday

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Alandmark case, in which government is challenging a High Court decision ordering the registration of Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), is set to be heard before the Court of Appeal this Friday.

Judge Terrence Rannowane in November 2014 ruled that the Botswana government should register the orgainsation. He said the government’s “refusal to register LEGABIBO was not reasonably justifiable under the Constitution of Botswana.

“It violated the applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. Lobbying for legislative reforms is not per se a crime. It is also not a crime to be a homosexual,” the judge said.

Justice Rannowane said the objectives of LEGABIBO include carrying out political lobbying for equal rights and decriminalisation of same sex relations. He said the decision of the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs to refuse the registration of LEGABIBO was in contravention of the Constitution as it denies the individuals equal protection of the law.

The Government has appealed the ruling that LEGABIBO must register and operate as a registered Non-Governmental Organisation. Government wants the decision by the lower court to be reviewed and set aside. A panel of five judges is expected to preside over the case.

On March 12, 2012 the Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration rejected the application to register LEGABIBO on the basis that the Botswana Constitution “does not recognise homosexuals and that the objectives of the intended organisation are contrary to Section 7 (2) of the Societies Act.”

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