As noted in The Namibian, Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa has backed the private member’s bill tabled by former youth minister Jerry Ekandjo seeking to change sections of the Immigration Control Act and the Marriage Act of 1961.
A trend is emerging across the African continent where anti-LGBTI bills are being introduced into Parliaments through private member bills.
Jerry Ekandjo’s bill seeks to explicitly define the term spouse invoking articles 81 and 4 of the Namibian Constitution to contradict a decision of the Supreme Court of Namibia on same-sex marriage.
In May, the Supreme Court of Namibia ruled that same-sex marriages which were validly concluded outside the country between Namibians and other nationals in foreign jurisdictions, are recognized in Namibia as valid marriages, so that the home affairs ministry should grant residence permits to foreign nationals married to Namibians in foreign jurisdictions.
He also seeks to amend the Marriage Act to define the terms marriage, same-sex marriage and spouse, to prohibit same-sex marriage, the solemnization of same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriage.
“I would like to thank Ekandjo for bringing the private members bill in this house. Ekandjo has spoken on behalf of the Namibian people,” Shaningwa said in parliament yesterday. “Namibian people are relieved and today they are going to sleep well because their question has been answered properly,” she added.
Ekandjo, sticking to his anti same-sex rhetoric, described the act of homosexuality as ‘satanic’.
He wants a clear law that distinguishes that marriage in Namibia refers to a matrimonial engagement between a man and a woman.
However, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein expressed his dissatisfaction over the bill in its state.
Schlettwein said that MPs took an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution. Schlettwein said he needed to remind MPs that in terms of the Constitution, the attorney generals’ powers and functions include taking all action necessary for the protection of and upholding the Constitution.
Schlettwein said it is a constitutional matter. “I believe to give effect to this article of the Constitution, we must give him the opportunity to apply his mind. “I want to put this on that note because I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and I believe that we should consider that,” he added.
Presenting his bill in parliament, Ekandjo said about 95% of the Namibian population does not support homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriages is against the norms and beliefs of the country’s majority. Melanie Nathan of African Human Rights Coalition notes: Ekandjo should be informed that perhaps constitutions are designed to protect minorities from the majority, in many instances, and hence his argument is deeply flawed. I think exterminating Jews in Germany was a popular notion at the time, that did not make it right! I believe slavery in America was once a popular notion, that did not make it right. Human rights must prevail. The right to equality in all relationships, whether a same-gender or a different gender partner should be a basic right. The fact that some fundamentalist religious views serve to judge a relationship as satanic or an abomination should have no impact on civil laws in a country where freedom of religion is constitutionally protected and where church and state are declared separate.