In a troubling step backwards, lawmakers in Namibia have unanimously approved a bill that outlaws same-sex marriage.
The legislation defines marriage as only possible between spouses who consist of “a genetically born man” and “a genetically born woman”. It thus aims to ban both same-sex couples and heterosexual transgender people from marrying.
The Marriage Amendment Bill further declares that same-sex marriages conducted outside of Namibia will not be recognised in the country, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling.
Those involved in promoting, conducting, or participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies could face fines and up to six years in jail under the proposed law.
According to New Era, the private member’s bill passed through the national assembly without any objections. It will now be presented to President Hage Geingob for his assent, although it remains unclear whether he will sign it into law.
Response to Supreme Court Decision
The bill was introduced Swapo MP Jerry Ekandjo in response to a Supreme Court decision on May 16, which ruled that the state must recognise same-sex marriages registered in countries where they are legal.
This landmark ruling was considered a significant step forward for Namibia, where homosexuality remains criminalised.
However, it also triggered a wave of homophobic vitriol and protests from anti-LGBTQ+ religious leaders and politicians.
Condemnation from Advocacy Groups
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), which supported the same-sex couples involved in the May court ruling, has strongly condemned the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
The organisation argued that these regressive efforts in Parliament undermine the judiciary’s independence and the rule of law.
SALC accused lawmakers of rushing the legislation under the guise of moral panic, misleading the public, and misrepresenting the Supreme Court judgment for short-term political gains.
Consensual sex between men remains illegal in Namibia, although no such cases have been reported since the country gained independence in 1990.