Is Namibia preparing to legalise homosexuality?


Gay sexuality is illegal in Namibia

Namibia’s Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) has recommended that the government abolish the country’s sodomy laws which criminalise gay men because of who they love.

Consensual “sodomy” between men is illegal in Namibia and could be used to prosecute LGBTIQ+ individuals, although this is rarely enforced.

On Monday, the Minister of Justice, Yvonne Dausab accepted two reports from the commission. The first is titled the Repeal of Obsolete laws and identifies 31 laws, including the criminalisation of sex between adult men.

The second report deals specifically with the Abolishment of the Common Law Offences of Sodomy and Unnatural Sexual Offences and also recommends their repeal.

“Their [the laws’] very existence violates the fundamental rights of the individuals who could be affected, as well as creating and reinforcing a culture of homophobia and intolerance against LGBTQ people,” states the report.

It adds that, “The continued existence of this law cannot be justified” as it “interferes with the constitutional and international law rights of individuals in Namibia”.

The LRDC, which has already prepared bills to repeal the laws, noted that between 2012 and 2019, 23 men were arrested on sodomy charges. Even if these were not prosecuted it nevertheless reduces gay men “to criminals” and “it is enforced often enough to create a realistic fear of possible arrest on the part of the gay community”.

The Windhoek Express quoted Dausab speaking at the official handing over of the reports to her office. “No Namibian should be comfortable with any part of our society feeling either they are second class citizens, that they are being excluded or stigmatised and discriminated against either on the basis of their sexual orientation, or the basis of their disability, or status in a particular society,” she said.

The Ministry of Justice noted in a statement that the reports are not yet laws “but rather informed conclusions based on legal research conducted by the LRDC and which the LRDC is submitting to the mandated minister of justice for further handling in order to effect the changes in Namibian laws…”

In a post on Facebook reacting to the release of the reports, Equal Namibia said that “a new day is on the horizon,” asserting that “the future is equal because every one of you stood up and demanded justice for all vulnerable Namibians. Stay in this fight for equality with us.”

Africa is one of the regions with the highest rate of criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people, with around 30 countries still outlawing same-sex sexual expression.

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