Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa has backed the private member’s bill tabled by former youth minister Jerry Ekandjo seeking to change sections of the Immigration Control Act and the Marriage Act of 1961.
Ekandjo’s bill seeks to explicitly define the term spouse invoking articles 81 and 4 of the Namibian Constitution to contradict a decision of the Supreme Court of Namibia on same-sex marriage.
He also seeks to amend the Marriage Act to define the terms marriage, same-sex marriage and spouse, to prohibit same-sex marriage, the solemnisation of same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriage.
“I would like to thank Ekandjo for bringing the private members bill in this house. Ekandjo has spoken on behalf of the Namibian people,” Shaningwa said in parliament yesterday.
“Namibian people are relieved and today they are going to sleep well because their question has been answered properly,” she added.
Ekandjo, sticking to his anti same-sex rhetoric, described the act of homosexuality as ‘satanic’.
He wants a clear law that distinguishes that marriage in Namibia refers to a matrimonial engagement between a man and a woman.
However, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein expressed his dissatisfaction over the bill in its state.
Schlettwein said that MPs took an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.
Schlettwein said he needed to remind MPs that in terms of the Constitution, the attorney generals’ powers and functions include taking all action necessary for the protection of and upholding the Constitution.
Schlettwein said it is a constitutional matter.
“I believe to give effect to this article of the Constitution, we must give him the opportunity to apply his mind.
“I want to put this on that note because I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and I believe that we should consider that,” he added.
His actions come at a time when the Supreme Court in May recognised same-sex marriages validly concluded outside the country between Namibians and other nationals in foreign jurisdictions.
The judgement said the home affairs ministry should grant residence permits to foreign nationals married to Namibians in foreign jurisdictions.
Presenting his bill in parliament, Ekandjo said about 95% of the Namibian population does not support homosexuality and the legalisation of same-sex marriages is against the norms and beliefs of the country’s majority.