Churches, activists react to same-sex marriage ruling

Various groups in Namibia have had mixed reactions to yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling recognising same-sex marriages concluded outside of Namibia.

The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) says it is frustrated with the court’s ruling.

Acting general secretary of the council of churches, Ludwig Beukes, says there is no scriptural basis for the church to support same-sex marriage and they will “never” support such unions.

“Secondly, looking into our different cultures in Namibia, as far as I know, there is no cultural group supporting same-sex marriage.
He says most Namibians are not in support of same-sex marriage.

Should same-sex marriages be permitted locally in the future, such couples should rather get married in court, he says.

Human rights activist Linda Baumann says the Supreme Court’s verdict reflects how the country is advancing the principles of human rights and upholding its Constitution.

“Tomorrow [17 May] is International Day Against Homophobia, and today the court passed this big, renowned verdict that speaks to the recognition of our rights in this country, however, there is also importance for us to acknowledge that matrimony in this country was argued against by religious groups regarding homosexuality,” she says.

She says the ruling obligates the state to advance it.

Baumann says the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI)+ community must hold state institutions, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security accountable to recognise same-sex marriages outside and within the country.

Human rights activist Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe says the verdict not only tested Namibia’s judicial readiness to acknowledge equal rights for LGBTQI+ Namibians, but served as a historic moment for the democracy and justice of a minority group.

“ . . . reverberating across the country and the continent that our legal commitment to the promise of equality has not let up,” she says.
Nthenge says more LGBTQI+ Namibians can now live with dignity.

“What was once erased is now recognised. It’s the first step. Next, we want legal recognition status for marriages concluded inside Namibia,” she says.

Equality has been a long-standing battle for LGBTQ+ activists, who have fought tirelessly for the rights of same-sex couples to have their relationships legally recognised.

In response to the growing frustration, advocacy groups are intensifying their efforts to push for legal reforms and hold the government accountable.

Siegliende Wether, the president of the Khorixas Constituency Residents Association, says considering human rights, the court made the right decision, and everyone has the right to equality.

“We all are God’s creation, and nobody should be lesser than another. Namibia has to live up to a just and equal society as the Constitution emphasises,” Wether says.

Dez Haman from the Khaibasen Community Trust at Keetmanshoop says victories should be celebrated.

“We hope this ruling would change the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, which currently doesn’t include same-sex couples.

“We also hope we are able to love freely and live an equitable life in Namibia,” Haman says.
Queen Sooabes, a transgender woman from Khorixas, says: “I am so excited as a Namibian citizen. I am closer to getting married to my boyfriend of four years in my own country.

“Namibia is moving to a 21st century country as this recognition confirms our existence as LGBTQI+ Namibians,” she says.

Yvonne Pienaar, acting programmes officer of Rural Dialogue, an LGBTQI+ organisation in the Kunene region, says: “Namibia became a free country for everyone at independence, however, some people were excluded. But this ruling gives members of the LGBTQI+ community the right to be treated with equality as Namibians too.

“Everyone is finally benefiting from the fruits of independence.”

Khorixas model and LGBTQI+ activist Gagga Fi’yona Minaj says she is “extremely excited” as Namibia is one step away from recognising same-sex marriages concluded within the country.

“This has been long overdue, but times are changing, and Namibia is recognising that everyone is equal.”

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