LEGABIBO Fights for Freedom of Association and Expression

The Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana today went to court for the appeal to the judgment made by Justice Rannowane to allow the registration of LEGABIBO. A panel of five judges heard the appeal. 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.

In his judgment in November 2014, Justice Rannowane said the refusal violated the applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly as enshrined under the Constitution of Botswana.

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The Botswana Government believes that the order to register the LGBTI rights group is in violation of the Constitution as it would appear that government encourages same sex in the country. They further argued that it would go against public morality. They stated that disseminating information about LGBTI may offend the public, however it was argued that one can advocate changing public morality. It was further stated that laws passed by parliament are assumed to be a representation of public morality. It is important to note that the Government of Botswana amended the employment act in 2010 to include that one cannot be fired from their workplace based on your sexual orientation.

In his argument, Mr. Bayford stated that the constitution of Botswana allows for protection of every person regardless of your sexuality – no one is excluded. and as society develops. He further added that freedom of association is a right to everyone in Botswana; they have the right to association and freedom of expression according to the laws and this does not exclude homosexuals.

The verdict is expected to be made at a date to be confirmed by the courts.

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