By Benjamin Wickham
Windhoek, Feb. 28 — Namibia’s LGBTIQ+ community is set to serve as a litmus test for the country’s promise of equality and freedom. On March 3 and March 6, the Supreme Court will once again hear cases involving the infringement of LGBTIQ+ person’s constitutional fundamental rights and freedom. These cases involve the local recognition of foreign same-sex marriages involving a Namibia spouse, as well as the right to a family for LGBTIQ+ persons and citizenship. The outcome of these cases will impact the right to dignity and equality of LGBTIQ+ persons for generations to come.
It has been 22 years since the Supreme Court of Namibia heard an LGBTIQ+ civil and human rights matter. Even though the Court, in 2001, stated that their judgement against recognizing queer relationships does not suffice homo-bi-transphobia and discrimination, the Namibian Government has continued to target and harass the LGBTIQ+ community by abusing public policy and violating the community’s constitutional rights.
The LGBTIQ+ community has been subjected to state-sanctioned homophobia and certain government officials have promoted the stigmatization of the community. This has led to hate, violence, and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ+ persons. Against this backdrop, Equal Namibia, with the support of Positive Vibes Trust, Sister Namibia, Power Pad Girls, and the Namibia Institute for Democracy, has invited members of the media, civil society, the LGBTIQ+ community, and allies to a press conference.
At the press conference, the organizations will share important information about the upcoming court cases and what the outcome of these cases may mean for the country. They will also share their response to the Attorney General’s homophobic and dehumanizing remarks in the government’s responding affidavit in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the apartheid-era sodomy law.
The liberators who fought for an independent Namibia envisioned a country where all persons are free from the shackles of colonial and apartheid-era laws. To be born free is to be equal under the law. It is essential that the Supreme Court upholds the constitutional fundamental rights and freedom of the LGBTIQ+ community. This will send a message that Namibia is a country where equality and freedom ring true.