LGBTI organisation enjoys more space following registration

Association

Since a High Court ruling in March, which forced the government to register LGBTI organisation LeGaBiBo, Botswana's LGBTI community has been able to undertake activities more openly and with limited interference or threats from the state. On 23rd September, LeGaBiBo organised and hosted a public book launch for its new publication "Dipolelo Tsa Rona." The book chronicles LGBTI stories from across Botswana, including stories of "love, hate, coming out and hope". The event was attended by the LGBTI community, friends of LeGaBiBo, partners and the Britain's Deputy High Commissioner to Botswana. Three days earlier, the government deported Stephen Anderson, a US-based anti-gay pastor. Anderson was deported while giving a radio interview in which he stated that gay people were rapists and child molestors, and had HIV and AIDS. The pastor, who was previously banned from South Africa and the United Kingdom for his hate speech in relation to LGBTI people, was declared a prohibited immigrant in Botswana.

Peaceful Assembly

On 23rd October, opposition political parties held a peaceful protest march in Selebi Pikwe, a mining town in the centre of Botswana. The demonstrators sought to highlight a number of issues including: the government's failure to consult them and ordinary citizens when making decisions; opposition to the use of electronic voting machines; the high rate of unemployment; and the poor academic performance of students in public schools. The march itself and a subsequent political rally were allowed to proceed without incident.

Expression

The boundaries of free speech were tested in September when police arrested a man suspected of creating a photoshopped image of a naked President Ian Khama standing in front of Parliament on the 50th anniversary of Botswana's independence. Many including the government condemned the image as indecent and an abuse of free speech, while others supported the creation of the image arguing that it was protected by right to freedom of expression. The suspect was taken from his home town in Maun to Gaborone to face charges that were not specified at the time of his arrest.