16th March has gone down in history as a great victory for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community in Botswana and Africa as a whole after LGBTI organization LEGABIBO (The Lesbians, Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana) won a court case where the state was instructed to register and officially recognize the sexual minorities’ body.
The case Thuto Rammogwe& 19 others Vs. The State was heard by five judges who eventually ruled in LEGABIBO’s favor after a period of over nearly five years. The matter dates back to 16th February 2012, when 17 individuals applied for LEGABIBO to be legally recognized as a society by the Registrar of Societies. Their application was rejected a few days later on the basis that the Botswana Constitution does not recognize homosexuals.
LEGABIBO then launched an appeal with the Minister of Labor and Home Affairs, who also rejected their application. The organization then filed a case before the High Court of Botswana, seeking a review of the Ministry’s refusal to register it as a society.
However this morning kicked off with a lot of anticipation as activists all over the continent showed their solidarity with the LGBTI organization; they took to their social media platforms posting different pictures of themselves with placards that carried unity and encouragement messages.
There was also a mammoth crowd of supporters outside the court house who broke into jubilation and dancing at the news that the verdict had been in LEGABIBO’s favor.
The good news was delivered by Honourable Kirby after rejecting the registrar’s request to dismiss the case. The judges also focused on the fact that no public opinion was given as evidence by the state and therefore their arguments did not hold much water.
LEGABIBO’S lawyers had throughout the case emphatically argued that homosexuality in Botswana is not a social ill by the law since there is no show of criminal activity taking place. It was on such undisputable grounds that the Court of Appeal ordered the Registrar of Societies to register LEGABIBO as a state recognized organization.
To further defend their case, LEGABIBO carried out a social media survey on whether homosexuality was unafrican or not. The results revealed that 83% of the people that engaged in the survey concurred that homosexuality had nothing to do with one’s ancestry and was merely an occurrence of nature.
Several congratulatory messages have poured in from across the globe as activists, organizations and well wishers joined LGABIBO in celebrating this groundbreaking victory in Botswana.