GENEVA / BANJUL – United Nations and African independent human rights experts, including UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai, today hailed a key judgment by the High Court of Botswana asserting that the organisation ‘Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana’ (LEGABIBO) should be legally registered as a society by the authorities.
The Court rejected last Friday the arguments put forward by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs of Botswana to refuse legal registration to LEGABIBO, by decreeing that ‘it is not a crime for one to be attracted to people of one’s own sex’ and that ‘advocacy for legislative reforms to decriminalize homosexuality is lawful.’
“This seminal judgment by the High Court of Botswana reaffirms that everyone is entitled to the fundamental right to peacefully assemble and associate,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, said.
“Other countries should follow and allow the registration of organisations advocating for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people,” the human rights expert stressed.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, reiterated that “both the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights have called on States on numerous occasions to ensure that human rights defenders working to protect the rights of LGBT people can do their critical work without interference.”
“We salute this ground-breaking judgment and hope that it will lead to more recognition and protection for LGBT human rights defenders in Africa and beyond,” the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the African Commission, Reine Alapini-Gansou, further added.
“This welcome ruling emphasises that there can be no justification for restricting the freedom of expression on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said. “I hope other States take note of this important judgment and do away such discriminatory restrictions.”
The UN and African human rights experts called on the authorities of Botswana to implement this judgment and urged all countries to remove discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.