Civil society warns Govt against discriminatory laws

Jerry Ekandjo

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has warned the government against enacting discriminatory laws targeting marginalised communities, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals.

A report published by IPPR researcher Frederico Links on Sunday has been submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, urging the government to uphold LGBTQI+ individuals’ rights and combat discrimination, harassment, and violence against them.

This comes at a time when the private member’s bills, drafted by Swapo lawmaker Jerry Ekandjo aiming to prohibit same-sex marriage and criminalising homosexuality, were passed by the parliament and is currently awaiting the president’s decision.

“Refrain from introducing legislation that discriminates against same-sex marriages and work towards legal reforms that protect LGBTQI+ rights, including repealing laws criminalising consensual same-sex relationships,” Links wrote in the report.

Links recommended that Namibia should prioritise repealing discriminatory laws, such as the common law crimes of sodomy and unnatural sexual offences, which he says perpetuates stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals.

“The government should align its legal framework with international human rights standards,” Links said.

He said priority should be given to the finalisation and enactment of the prohibition of unfair discrimination, harassment and hate speech bill to ensure discrimination based on sexual orientation and age is explicity prohibited.

The report outlined that, according to LGBTQI+ activists, attacks and incidents of harassment have escalated in the aftermath of the Namibian Supreme Court’s ruling on 16 May 2023, which ordered the government to recognise same-sex marriages performed abroad.

“Marginalisation, discrimination, harassment and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons remain serious concerns in Namibia, with the Namibian state contributing to and stoking this climate of hate,” Links said.

The report called for the amendment of the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Act to extend the law’s protections to individuals in same-sex relationships.

“Another example of the state’s position on same-sex relations or marriage is the fact that despite civil society advocacy and recommendations, protections against domestic violence under the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Act are not provided for or extended to individuals in same-sex relationships,” Links said.

He advocated the preservation of judicial independence and cautioned against any efforts to attack or undermine its integrity.

The Supreme Court ruling of May 2023 has unleashed attacks on the judiciary by politicians, church leaders and citizens.

“Politicians, church leaders and civilians should refrain from making impermissible attacks on the judiciary and respect its role in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights,” Links said.

Last year, the Society of Advocates of Namibia condemned the attacks on the Supreme Court following the ruling, saying it may undermine the role of the top court to uphold the Namibian Constitution.

“This amounts to an impermissible and unjustifiable attack on the independence of the judiciary and to an attempt to intimidate the judiciary and undermine its integrity,” the organisation said.


Links further said the finalisation of the white paper on indigenous peoples must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

He said the government must take concrete steps to address the marginalisation and discrimination faced by indigenous groups, particularly the San.

“This includes improving access to healthcare, education, employment and economic opportunities for indigenous communities,” Links said.

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