Botswana’s highest court tells Government gays have human rights too

The Botswana Court of Appeal has voted to bolster a ruling in favour of LGBT rights organisations in the country.

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal unanimously voted to dismiss an appeal by Botswana’s Government against a Gaborone High Court ruling which allowed LGBT rights organisations to officially register.

The original ruling specifically pertained to Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals Organisation of Botswana (LEGABIBO).

The battle started in 2012, when LEGABIBO sought to register itself.

The Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration and the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs at the time refused to allow the organisation to register.

They noted that same-sex activities are illegal in Botswana, and said that LGBT people are not protected by the Constitution of Botswana.

But the ruling by the Gaborone court rejected the argument, and allowed LEGABIBO to be registered.

The Court of Appeal said the decision by the government to block the organisation from registering was unlawful.

In its ruling, the Court said the organisation’s aims are to “further human rights and the wellbeing of LGBTI persons in Botswana and that advocating for the laws to be changed in and of itself is not illegal.

“It is the democratic right of every citizen to express their opinions about a law. It does not follow that when an organisation advocates for changes in the law on abortion, the death penalty, or same sex sexual acts, that the organisation or its members is engaging in abortion, or murder or same sex sexual acts”.

The court noted that human rights, as defined by the country’s Constitution, actually does include everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

Same-sex activities are illegal in Botswana, and punishable with up to 7 years imprisonment.