|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Three years since the registration of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) was rejected by the Botswana Registrar of Societies, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Since the rejection LeGaBiBo has been engaged with human rights lawyers Monica Tabengwa and Uyapo Ndadi working on a case against the government.
A proud gay man Caine Youngman who is the litigant in the case where LeGaBiBo is suing the Botswana government said, “The case is about legal recognition of the LGBTIQ/MSM/WSW communities in Botswana. The case came about after the registrar of societies refused to register LeGaBiBo in 2007. Refusal to register is one of the leading points against the legal recognition of the organisation. We are basically asking the courts to repeal Section 164 (a) & (c) of the Penal Code which in a way criminalises being ‘gay’.”
In April this year LeGaBiBo appeared before Judge Zibani Makwade at the Lobatse High court for the first time, where the lawyers representing Caine asked for an extension so to finish their paperwork.
“Any body that is contrary to the Constitution of Botswana cannot be registered,” said Deputy Director of Civil and National Registration, Michael Mohautsi.
Although the law of Botswana does not criminalize people who identify as homosexuals, there are challenges that hinder homosexuals from walking tall with their heads up and enjoying the freedom that every Motswana enjoys.
Asked why LeGaBiBo does not register under a different label such as human rights which would not be specific that it is a gay and lesbian organization, Youngman said, “That will not be totally inclusive of all the classes of people LeGaBiBo set out to serve. We will not approach the law on false pretences.
“We want to be recognised for whom we are in every way possible and not to be limited to what we said might say to registrar of societies only to get registered. It will do us no good.
“Human rights is one approach that was used from the word go but failed. We are not giving up yet. It’s our duty to fully represent the aforementioned group of people in Botswana and we shall do so being true to our strides.”
Article by: Skipper Mogapi