I still feel the joy of that moment in court one month ago. 16 March 2016 was perhaps one of the greatest moments in history for the LGBT people in Botswana. The court ruled in favour of registration of LEGABIBO. The Director of Civil and National Registration and the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs had initially refused to register our LGBT rights and advocacy organisation. On 16 March, the Court of Appeal held that the right to freedom of association was violated. The Court of Appeal emphasised that constitutional rights apply to ‘every person’ and that to deny this, is to deny a person’s human dignity.
When the judge stated that LGBT persons are people who are recognized by the law and deserve to be protected under the constitution of Botswana, I wanted to jump, laugh, cry and dance at the same time.
The LEGABIBO registration case judgement was a victorious and profound moment for all LGBT in Botswana. And it was my birthday as well! I felt so overwhelmed and happy when the judge ruled in our favour. The mood inside the courtroom was of pure joy. Everyone hugged each other right after the judgment was passed. This court judgment means the law is making progress towards recognizing and acknowledging gays and lesbians. The registration of LEGABIBO is very important. Now we can provide an opportunity for LGBT people in Botswana to be part of an association which will provide them with information on human rights and with tools that will help them to advocate for respect of their rights. This registration will also help LEGABIBO to be that bridge between the LGBT community and access to healthcare services free of stigma and discrimination. For instance, now we can help LGBT people to get safe sex packages and health services that are tailored to their needs.
The registration will also help our organisation to create more allies and partnerships. This will help us to make the LGBT voice in Botswana stronger and more effective. This is a great deal for LGBT organisations in Botswana and even in the rest of Africa where homophobia and transphobia is high. It is also a global victory and another step forward towards creating an enabling environment for LGBT.
This amazing achievement has once again given hope for a better tomorrow. It has ignited the LGBT movement to rise up and unite. It gives courage to continue doing what I do and hope for a better tomorrow.