Namibia and Same Sex Marriage

Namibia and same sex marriage: Not seeing eye to eye

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Same sex marriage in the land of wonders

Home to some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world including the Fish River Canyon, which is so vast your eyes cannot cope with the full view all at once, Namibia is truly the land of wonders.

The rippling mirage desert at Sossusvlei is a sight to behold. In this eerily enticing sea of sand, the dunes change from burnt orange through red to deepest mauve with the moving sun.The feminine curves rise tantalisingly to an astonishing 300m, making them the tallest in the world, 100m higher than their nearest rivals in Arabia, and they just beg to be climbed barefoot. 

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, a region often referred to as the end of the Earth captures the state of same sex marriage in the country. To the left, desert; to the right, ocean, on one side their is conservatives who swear same sex marraige in the Namibia will not see the light of the day while on the other side is liberals who think there has never been a better time to recognise and dare celebrate same sex marriage in Namibia.

What the government says

Namibia and same sex marriage: Not seeing eye to eye. (Namibian sun)

Like many other African nations, Namibia still ban same-sex liaisons, with couples risking jail and public scorn.

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The state of Same-sex marriage in Namibia is ambiguous. Namibian state does not regonsise same-sex marriage, however in numerous cases foreign same sex marriages have been recognized and parental rights have even been granted to gay couples looking to adopt.

What the spouse got to do with it

Daniel Digashu and Johan Potgieter have become the latest faces in the fight for the plight of same sex marriage in Namibia.

The couple, married in South Africa, and Anette Seiler-Lilles and Anita Seiler-Lilles in Germany – but both couples now live in Namibia.

Johann Potgieter, 45, a businessman and director, and South African Daniel Digashu. (Mamba Online)

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Digashu, a South African, and German-born Anita Seiler-Lilles had applications for a work permit and residency denied respectively based of their same-sex marital status.

The couple then went to court and argued that the word “spouse” in Namibian immigration law should include same-sex couples or the clause be declared unconstitutional.

Judge Hannelie Prinsloo said she agreed but was bound by a more than 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling saying Namibia does not recognise same-sex relationships. 

“Only the Supreme Court can correct itself,” she said, adding it was high time the constitution reflected social reality.

What’s the future of same sex marriage in the land of wonders

Namibia and same sex marriage: Not seeing eye to eye. (reuters)

The Daniel Digashu and Johan Potgieter case marks the latest legal challenge aimed at improving LGBTQ+ rights in Namibia.

In its decision, the court expressed sympathy with the couples’ position and emphasized that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable under domestic and international law.

Nevertheless, it concluded that the court was bound by a decades-old Supreme Court judgment that said the Immigration Control Act, which provides certain benefits to spouses of Namibian citizens, does not recognize same-sex relationships.

In a verdict hailed as a big win for gay couples, in October Namibian Phillip Luhl and husband Guillermo Delgado won citizenship by descent for their son, born to a surrogate in South Africa in 2019.

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Same sex marriage likely to be recognised in our lifetime

Namibia and same sex marriage: Not seeing eye to eye. (Them)

In August 2016, the Namibian Ombudsman, John R. Walters, publicly questioned the purpose of the anti-sodomy law stating that:

“I think the old sodomy law has served its purpose. How many prosecutions have there been? I believe none over the past 20 years. If we don’t prosecute people, why do we have the act?” 

He went on to endorse equal marriage saying: “If people of the same sex would like to get married, it is their choice, whether the country, the community, churches and government acknowledge that [is something else].”

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