Human Rights First said the today’s Botswana court decision to allow the registration of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights organization is an important human rights victory for the people of Botswana.

The court ruled today that the Botswana government cannot deny registration to the LGBT organization Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Botswana (LEGABIBO).

This decision is a major step forward in the struggle for equality and human rights in Botswana. We applaud the Botswana court for recognizing that denying LEGABIBO the permission to operate would strip the group’s members of their basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly,

said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge the United States and the international community to support the work of African human rights defenders and civil society organizations, and to press the Botswana government to take the additional step of repealing its discriminatory laws.

The LEGABIBO case was brought after the Department of Labor and Home Affairs blocked the organization from registering in March 2012. Registration of civil society organizations is required under the Botswana Societies Act in order for groups to legally operate. LEGABIBO’s application was denied on the grounds that homosexual conduct is illegal, and the Botswana Societies Act allows the government to deny registration to any organization “likely to be used for any unlawful purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with peace, welfare or good order in Botswana. LEGABIBO’s petition to the court cited the registration denial as a violation of the group members’ constitutional rights of assembly, association, expression, and non-discrimination.

Botswana is one of 37 African nations that criminalize same-sex relationships as outlined in the July 2014 report titled, “The State of Human Rights for LGBT People in Africa,” issued by Human Rights First and Human Rights Campaign. Human Rights First urges the United States and the international community to continue to work closely with African human rights activists and civil society leaders to promote the protection of the human rights of all Africans.

Human Rights First’s African Voices for Equality Map details some of the brave leaders who are standing up for equality and dignity for all people. The organization is also calling for the State Department to establish a Special Envoy in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for foreign policy initiatives to protect the human rights of LGBT people worldwide !!

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