Attorney General of Botswana v. Thuto Rammoge & 19 others (2016)

Judgment of the Court of Appeal upholding the earlier decision of the High Court that the refusal of the Government of Botswana to allow the registration of a LGBT organisation was unconstitutional.

In 2014, 20 petitioners brought proceedings in the High Court of Botswana against the Minister of Home Affairs. The Minister had supported the decision of the Direction of the Department of Civil and National Registration not to allow the registration of the organisation Lesbian, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The High Court ruled in favour of the petitioners and ordered LEGABIBO to be registered.

This decision was appealed by the Attorney General of Botswana. The case hinged on whether the decision to refuse LEGABIBO’s registration violated Article 13 of the Constitution, on the right to freedom of association and assembly. The Court of Appeal held that Article 13 of the Constitution protects the right of every person to freedom of association and assembly.

The Court further found that there was no evidence that the organisation wished to register to promote unlawful objectives and consequently the Minister did not satisfy the requirement to limit rights under Article 13 of the Constitution. It stated that: “members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community, although no doubt a small minority, and unacceptable to some on religious or other grounds, form part of the rich diversity of any nation and are fully entitled in Botswana, as in any other progressive state, to the constitutional protection of their dignity.”

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