Namibia: Supreme Court keeps gay couple’s son in limbo


Guillermo Delgado and Phillip Lühl waiting for Monday’s Supreme Court decision on their son’s citizenship (Photo: Namibia Equal Rights Movement)

The child of a same-sex couple in Namibia will remain without citizenship following a devastating ruling by the country’s Supreme Court.

On Monday, a full bench of justices overturned the 2021 lower court ruling that four-year-old Yona Delgado-Lühl was entitled to Namibian citizenship by descent.

The boy was born via surrogacy in South Africa to Namibian Phillip Lühl and his Mexican husband, Guillermo Delgado.

The Namibian government has refused to grant Yona citizenship, despite Lühl being named one of the parents on his birth certificate. Officials have demanded a DNA test to confirm that he is genetically related to Lühl and do not recognise the couple’s marriage.

The Supreme Court’s decision did not address the crucial issue of unfair discrimination against the child based on his parent’s relationship and instead used a technicality to rule against the family.

It agreed with the Ministry of Home Affairs that the couple had failed to register Yona’s birth in Namibia within one year, as required by the law.

“Because there was non-compliance with… the Citizenship Act, the minister was correct in not granting the minor child citizenship by descent,” the court found.

The couple’s lawyer, Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile, told journalists outside the court that the ruling was “unfortunate” and that “at the end of the day, they are running with a technical point that was not properly raised in my opinion [and] that doesn’t make any sense.”

She said that Lühl will now have to register Yona’s birth “which we know what Home Affairs is going to do – it is going to reject any attempt at registration because… they have been consistent in their harassment of this family”.

Katjipuka-Sibolile explained that the family are back at square one: The expected rejection of the registration application will have to again be challenged in the High Court and then in the Supreme Court, giving the family no respite from the stressful legal process.

In a video posted on Sunday ahead of the ruling, Lühl – who has two other young children through surrogacy – said he was not feeling very positive but hoped for closure to the case. He added that it has been strange to sit in court and have people debate if his child is his.

Sadly, the couple’s worst fears were realised on Monday.

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