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Namibian Appeal Sends Gay Man's Case Back to Immigration Officials to Reconsider

By Melanie Nathan, March 07, 2022.

Namibian immigration officials must reconsider their decision to deny residency to the Mexican partner of a gay Namibian man, the Supreme Court ruled today.

Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Namibia, but the courts have gradually extended some protections to gay couples married in other countries.

Guillermo Delgado had applied for residency in Namibia, where he has lived for more than a decade. He married Namibian national Phillip Luehl eight years ago in South Africa.

But immigration officials ruled that their South African marriage did not qualify Delgado for residency in Namibia. Delgado took his fight to the Supreme Court, which ordered immigration officials to reconsider the application.

But the court stopped short of requiring that immigration officials grant Delgado residency. "The appeal succeeds in part," the judgement said.

"The matter must be referred back to them to consider the application afresh."

Speaking outside the court, Delgado's lawyer Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile said the couple believed immigration will simply reject the application again.

"We know what they are going to do: They are going to reject the application –- except they are going to pretend that they thought about it a bit longer," she said.

Namibia has seen a flurry of court challenges around same-sex couples marrying, parenting, and migrating.

Homosexuality is illegal in Namibia under a rarely-enforced 1927 sodomy law dating to its period of South African rule.

In October the Namibian High Court granted citizenship to Delgado and Luehl's two-year-old son, ending a legal battle over surrogacy and same-sex parents.

Melanie Nathan, ED of African Human rights Coalition: "I have yet to read the full judgement. The fact that these cases are being heard in the Namibian Courts and in the case of this appeal, not outright rejected is in and of itself hopeful. However I do think the Namibian Court needs to find its courage to truly apply law to equality and they have failed to do so in this case. It is time for Namibia to join South Africa, its neighbor and the Mandela thinking, that in effect, noted through a famed quote that anything but full equality relegates a country to "skunk" of the world." TV Interview: The Namibian Anti-Child Appeal on Citizenship through Gay Parents

Namibia’s benchmark decision in the case of Luehl v Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, where Judge Thomas Masuku granted a toddler Namibian citizenship through descent of its parent (Oct 13, 2021) has been appealed by the Namibian Government. Here is African Human Rights Coalition executive Director, Melanie Nathan talking about the impending appeal in an interview with Namibian Sun and Africa Good Morning. READ MORE AS REPORTED HERE:

ALSO In this another Namibian case - as previously reported: Namibian Court Rules Against Same-Sex Couples While Justices Express Support for Recognition

The Windhoek High Court has dismissed the application by two Namibians and their foreign born spouses to have their marriages recognized in Namibia. The Justices highlighted their displeasure that they were still bound to a 20 year old Supreme Court ruling that had found same-sex relationships are not recognized by law. The couples involved in the cases were Daniel Digashu and Johan Potgieter and a second couple, Anette Seiler-Lilles and Anita Seiler-Lilles. Digashu, a South African, and German-born Anita had applied for a work permit and permanent residency but were denied based on their same-sex marital status. While this is a blow to same-sex rights in Namibia, Judge Hannelie Prinsloo indicates she and two Justice colleagues agree a Supreme Court judgement in which it was said same-sex relationships are not recognized under Namibian law was wrong. However, noted that they are still bound by precedent. READ MORE HERE


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