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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.

The judgment by High Court judges Hannelie Prinsloo, Orben Sibeya and Esi Schimming-Chase, stressed that “we believe” its time for the Namibian constitution to reflect that homosexuality is “part and parcel of our society” and that all Namibians, including those in homosexual relationships, are “worthy of being afforded the same rights.”

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the Supreme Court was wrong when it found 20 years ago that such discrimination was not unconstitutional, Judge Hannelie Prinsloo says. The High Court cannot overrule the Supreme Court, though.

The judge notes same-sex relationships are globally recognized.

I would agree that given these acknowledgements at the level of judgement, it is high time for the law to reflect that same-sex relationships are as the judge noted, "part and parcel of the fabric of Namibian society." Melanie Nathan, ED African Human Rights Coalition. Jan 20, 2022.


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