Namibia: Call for President to Veto Anti-LGBTQI+ Bill

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The President of Namibia, Nangolo Mbumba, must use his veto powers to reject the unconstitutional anti-LGBTQI+ bill

A campaign has been launched urging the President of Namibia, Nangolo Mbumba, to veto the discriminatory anti-LGBTQI+ bill passed by Parliament last year.

Through a petition on All Out, thousands of people have condemned the legislation that seeks to further limit the rights of LGBTQI+ Namibians and has fuelled a spike in deadly queerphobic hate crimes.

The bill was introduced in Parliament in response to a May 2023 ruling by the country’s Supreme Court ordering the state to recognise same-sex marriages concluded abroad, which would grant residence to foreign same-sex spouses of Namibians.

The ruling sparked backlash from religious leaders and politicians, leading to a series of protests. In September 2023, a bill to annul the Supreme Court’s ruling and explicitly ban any same-sex marriage in Namibia was overwhelmingly passed.

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, effectively outlawing advocacy for marriage equality. Critics assert that the law is unconstitutional and will stifle freedom of expression and association.

“By passing the bill, Parliament chose to further the long-standing project of hate and discrimination, rooted in colonialism and apartheid, this time targeting queer people. This undermines democracy and is a threat to the separation of powers,” say the creators of the petition, Equal Namibia. They add that the bill also “undermines democracy and is a threat to the separation of powers.”

Since the bill was passed, at least six queer individuals have been murdered in Namibia, often under brutal circumstances.

“These undignified and unprecedented killings, including gruesome details of mutilation, underscore the consequences of Parliament’s legislative hate and sanctioned violence, eroding Namibia’s commitment to inclusivity,” reads the petition.

The bill has yet to be signed into law by President Mbumba. Activists are calling for him to exercise his presidential veto powers and thereby uphold the integrity, independence, authority, and rule of law of the Supreme Court.

“In the crisis of hate which has claimed the lives of six of our fellow queer Namibians, the people are looking to you for leadership and care. We trust that your leadership will ensure Namibia remains a beacon of inclusivity and respect for human rights,” appeal the petitioners.

You can sign the petition here.

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