17 November 2014:ARASA commends the Gaborone High Court for protecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Botswana

Windhoek, Namibia—The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) has lauded the Botswana High Court for protecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Botswana after the court found on Friday, 14 November 2014 that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Botswana have the right to register their own organisations.

“This judgement is a tremendous victory for the protection of the rights of LGBTI people on the African continent where they face harassment, violence, extortion and other rights violations on a daily basis,” said Michaela Clayton, director of ARASA. “The social and legal environments in some countries in southern and east Africa have been increasingly repressive and LGBTI people have received very little protection from the judicial system in the past.”

In February 2012, Lesbians, Gays and Bi-sexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) applied for registration in terms of the Societies Act in Botswana. This application was rejected by the Director of the Department of Civil and National Registration on the basis that the Botswana Constitution does not recognise homosexuals and that the objectives of the organisation are contrary to section 7(2) of the Societies Act. An appeal to this decision was rejected on the in November 2012 by the Department of Labour and Home Affairs.

In March 2013, twenty individuals filed a case before the High Court of Botswana, arguing that the Department of Labour and Home Affairs in Botswana’s refusal to register LEGABIBO violated their constitutional rights to freedom of association, expression, and equal protection of the law.

“The decision by the Department of Labour and Home Affairs in Botswana not to register LEGABIBO was clearly unjust as this organisation, operating under the auspices of the Botswana Network of Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), already plays a pivotal role in providing much needed information and advocating for the rights of LGBTI citizens of Botswana,” added Clayton. “In the response to HIV, the ability of groups of LGBTI people to register and access funding to provide HIV and STI prevention information and services is crucial as the disproportionately high rates of HIV prevalence amongst marginalised groups such as men who have sex with men have a negative impact on the HIV prevalence in the entire country as well as public health outcomes.”

The rights to freedom of expressions, association and assembly, guaranteed in various international and national human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Botswana are vital for a democracy as they safeguard the ability of citizens to organise around common needs and interests.

ARASA Regional Office

53 Mont Blanc Street, Windhoek

PO Box 97100, Windhoek

Namibia

Tel: +264 61 300381

Mobile: +264 81 127 2367

Fax: +264 61 227675

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: www.arasa.info

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Contact:

Sirka Amaambo: Communications Officer

Tel: +264 61 300 381

Mobile: +264 81 278 1245

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Felicita Hikuam: Deputy Director

Tel: +264 61 300 381

Mobile: +264 81 222 3054

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

___________________________________________________________________________ The AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a partnership of over 80 civil society organisations working together in 18 countries in Southern and East Africa to promote a human rights based response to HIV and TB. For more information on the partnership please visit: www.arasa.info

21st November 2014: BONELA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

On Friday the 21st of November 2014, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) will be holding its 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) under the theme ‘Creating Strategic Partnerships: Sustaining a Rights Based Response to HIV/AIDS in Botswana’. The meeting will be held at Ave Maria Pastoral Centre, Game City, Gaborone, Botswana at 15:00hrs. The Honourable Assistant Minister of Health, Dr. Alfred Madigele will deliver the key note address.

The Annual General meeting aims to receive and adopt the Audited Accounts for the financial year ended 31 December 2013, elect new Board members and address and . In this meeting the membership will be expected to make resolutions in reference to sustainability of BONELA, improving the governance systems and structure while increasing accountability.

The AGM comes at a time when BONELA is celebrating two landmark cases on access to Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for foreign prisoners and the right to registration for their partner organisation LEGABIBO.

BONELA is a non-governmental organisation working to promote a just and inclusive environment to prevent HIV infection and provide a greater quality of life for people affected by HIV and AIDS in resonance with the national agenda and in line with the spirit of Botswana’s vision for 2016, to have zero new HIV infections, zero stigmas and zero HIV deaths.

All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to review the year’s activities. Resolutions presented at the AGM can only be voted on by paid up members of BONELA.

RSVP to 3932516 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

        P O Box 402958 l Gaborone l Botswana

        TEL: +267–3932516 l FAX: + 267-3932517

        EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. l WEB: www.bonela.org

         BONELA   @bonelaethics

                                  

“MAKING HUMAN RIGHTS A REALITY”Zero new HIV infections? Zero Stigmas? Zero HIV deaths?

BONELA Applauds Batswana for exercising their civic and political rights in the ended Parliamentary and Local Government Elections 27 October, 2014

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) applauds Batswana from all walks of life in country and the diaspora who participated and cast their votes in the just ended parliamentary and local government elections held on October 24, 2014.

By making a conscious choice to use their vote and usher in parliamentary as well local government representatives of their choice, Batswana have been able to fully exercise their civic and political rights, a symbol and yard stick of every country that subscribes to a democratic system or process.

BONELA would like to congratulate all the elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councillors and implores them as people who will be in leadership to commit themselves to the social contract they signed with voters and work together to ensure that they are true to their constitutional obligations and duties in upholding the rights of all Batswana to realise their potential and incrementally address some of the emerging social and health challenges we are currently facing.

We therefore call upon the newly elected members of parliament to:

  • Embark on inclusive policy-making processes targeted at addressing the needs of marginalised, most at risk and underserved (vulnerable) communities such as Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons, sex workers, People Living with Disabilities, women, children and youth.       The essence of enacting laws is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
  • Ratify and domesticate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to increase access to socio – economic and cultural services. Constitutionally guaranteeing such rights provides great opportunity for Batswana to claim their rights.
  • Review the Public Health Act of 2013 which we strongly believe violates the constitutional rights of Batswana especially those living with HIV to confidentiality, privacy and the right to informed consent.
  • Fast track the signing the SADC Gender Protocol to ensure that women play a meaningful role in the social, political and economic dispensation. The under-representation of women is a serious problem in all political parties.

BONELA remains committed to working in partnership with all parliamentarians across the political divide to improve the quality of life of Batswana.

BONELA is a national network of individuals and organizations that promotes a just and inclusive environment to ensure the quality of life for people affected by HIV and AIDS through human rights and legal literacy, strategic litigation and capacity building.

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For more information please contact

Cindy Kelemi – Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Felistus Motimedi – Programs Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">3932516

Fax: 3932517

14 November 2014 BOTSWANA HIGH COURT ASSERTS RIGHT OF LESBIANS AND GAYS TO FORM THEIR OWN ASSOCIATION

Gaborone – Today, the Gaborone High Court delivered judgment in a case concerning the Department of Labour and Home Affairs’ refusal to register the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The case was brought by 20 individuals who argued that the refusal to register their organisation violated their constitutional rights, including their rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and equal protection of the law. They are represented by Dow and Associates.

“We are overjoyed at the outcome of the case. Lesbians, gays and bisexuals have long strived to be able to form an organisation which can support them and be their voice on matters that affect them,” says Caine Youngman, LEGABIBO Coordinator. “It has been a long and arduous journey towards recognition and we are relieved that the court has protected our rights”.

“Botswana’s HIV/AIDS National Strategic Framework 2010-2016 seeks to ensure equal access to health and social support services for all people regardless of race, creed, religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. LEGABIBO intends to work with government to improve access to health services for LGBT persons, and this judgment enables them to do so,” says Cindy Kelemi from the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA).

“The judgment emphasises the importance of the right to freedom of association in a democracy. The judgment will benefit not only the prospective members of LEGABIBO, but any minority group which seeks to uphold its right to freedom of association in Botswana in the future,” says Anneke Meerkotter from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

For more information:

Caine Youngman, LEGABIBO Coordinator at BONELA: Tel: +267 393 2516; E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cindy Kelemi, Director, BONELA: +267 393 2516 (o); +267 7238 5054 (m); This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anneke Meerkotter, Southern Africa Litigation Centre: Tel: + 27 11 587 5065; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For background information on the case: http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/botswana-high-court-challenge-to-refusal-to-register-lgbt-organisation/

10th October 2014: BONELA CONDEMNS THE GOVERNMENT OF BOTSWANA IN VOTING AGAINST A UNITED NATIONS (UN) HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL RESOLUTION TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE HOSTILITY AND DISCRIMANATION BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL ORIETATION.

On the 26th September 2014 the Botswana government voted against a UN resolution that seeks to protect sexual minority groups against discrimination and violence.

Botswana Government was punitive in disapproving the resolution put forward by the UN Human Rights Council displaying lack of commitment to human rights and also contradicting itself as the Domestic Violence Act of 2008 stands to protect any person in a domestic relationship.

Botswana’s action also violates and contradicts its own national roadmap as espoused in Vision 2016 development strategy, specifically the Pillar 3 which calls for “A Free and a Tolerant Nation”. The denial by government to accede to and voting against this resolution demonstrates government‘s intolerance of LGBTI persons. It is appalling that such an important international resolution was shunned by the government.

On the contrary, the government of Botswana passed the Domestic Violence Act in 2008 which seeks to provide victims of domestic violence with protection and empowers courts to pass on orders which will immediate protection to victims and survivors of violence. This Act provides the protection of any person in a domestic relationship and the term ‘any person’ includes and refers to any person irrespective of gender, or sexual orientation. By definition and determination this Act covers and should protect everybody including LGBTI from the risk and or circumstances of violence. Domestic and social violence in and targeted towards LGBT community in Botswana continues to be a serious security issue of those individuals and their families. Significantly, a number of cases that involve LGBTI violence go unreported due to the disenabling and oppressive legal and justice system and environment. At service point level i.e. at police stations and health facilities negative and hostile attitudes of the police and health care workers makes victims and survivors unable to speak out for fear of revealing to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AID notes that “violence is violence” and it does not matter whether it is between two men, two women or a transgendered individual. Government should be putting in place mechanisms that are aimed at reducing the probability of occurrence because it is its duty to protect and uphold the rights of ALL its citizens without favour. Botswana‘s action affirms the institutionalization of homo and transphobia which will further marginalise and alienate the LGBTI community.

Human rights are universal and internationally acceptable principles and should be conferred to all citizens regardless of gender of any other classification or categorisation.

For more information:

Cindy Kelemi, Director, BONELA: 393 2516 , 7238 5054 (m); This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Keikantse Phele, Legal Advisor, BONELA: 393 2516, 72 4979 68 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow BONELA on Twitter on @ bonela_ethics and Like our Face book Page BONELA

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