A same-sex couple have reportedly managed to get their marriage recognised in Namibia thanks to a loophole in the nation’s law.
Heide Rossouw of Heide Rossouw Legal Office in Walvis Bay discovered that although Namibia does not recognise gay marriages from other countries it does recognise foreign civil unions as equivalent to marriage.
She recently arranged for a Namibian woman and her American female partner to marry in neighbouring South Africa via a civil union.
The Namib Independent reports that using this loophole, Rossouw was then able to convince Namibia’s Department of Home Affairs that the union had to be legally recognised as a marriage.
“I spent two hours at the [Home Affairs] office, because the lady kept telling me that it is sinful,” Rossouw told the newspaper.
She explained that since then the process of registering other same-sex couples with a South African civil union as married has gone smoothly.
For the last two months she’s been advertising the service and has received over 300 phone calls from prospective clients.
As part of the service, Rossouw will send a same-sex couple to South Africa for the day where a colleague will arrange the civil union ceremony and all the legalities. Rossouw will then handle the registration of the marriage for the couple in Namibia.
She explained that she’s a firm supporter of marriage equality. “Why shouldn’t they get married? Why shouldn’t they have vows and promises to hold their relationship together, in the country where they belong?” Rossouw asked.
The service costs around N$12,000 (about R12,000).
South Africa is the only African country to recognise same-sex relationships via civil unions or gay marriage.
Gay rights in Namibia are a contentious issue. Consensual “sodomy” is illegal and could be used to prosecute gay men, although this is not believed to have happened since the country’s independence in 1990.