The two independent organisations yesterday expressed their interest to appear as amici curiae, that is, friends of the court, who may offer information on the case, but have not been solicited by either of the parties in the case.High Court Judge Terrence Rannowane currently has two applications before him, the main application in which Thuto Ramoge and 19 others, represented by Unity Dow of Dow and Associates, are challenging the decision by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA) not to register their association. Advocate Moatlhodi Marumo represents the Attorney General.
The second application is by Human Rights Watch, represented by Martin Dingake, to be admitted as a friend of the court in the case.Nehemiah Muguni, who represents EFB, made the court aware of his clients' interest in the matter belatedly, at a time when the other parties had met to draft a consent order setting up a schedule of the court appearances. He was thus instructed to make his application on a different day.Advocate Marumo, who said the AG would oppose Human Rights Watch's application, cautioned that there will need to be a lot of control on who can be admitted as friends of the court in this case as a lot of people have interest in it.
"There is going to be a need for some kind of control. Everyone has an interest in this case, but it is not the interest that should allow everyone to
intervene, it should be direct interest," he said.The main application has raised a lot of interest, both locally and within the region as debate continues on the human rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community within Africa. EFB, a group of evangelical churches in Botswana, recently made their opinion known, when they called for stiffer laws and rehabilitation of homosexuals, who they called "criminal and immoral."
For the main application, the 20 applicants who wish to register and associate under the name Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), want the court to declare the decision of the MLHA to be in contravention of Section 3 of the constitution as, they argue, the decision denies the applicants equal protection of the law. They further want the courts to declare an earlier decision taken by the then Minister Peter Siele, to be in contravention of Section 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana in so far as the said decision has the effect of hindering the applicants in their enjoyment of their freedom of expression. The applicants also argue that by rejecting their application to register as an association, the MLHA is violating their rights to form and join an association. The application for the admission of Human Rights Watch as a friend of the court will be heard on February 26th,2014, while the main application is scheduled for March 15th, 2014.