Swapo politburo rejects same-sex-marriage

Hage Geingob

Senior ruling party leaders yesterday discussed the possibility of approaching the parliament to revisit the law that governs marriage in Namibia.

The politburo, which includes more than 28 leaders, met in Windhoek yesterday to discuss, among others, last month’s Supreme Court order which compelled the Namibian government to recognise two same-sex marriages validly concluded outside the country.

Now the party is set to explain why it is against same-sex marriage by using a definition from the Swapo Family Act, which was approved 46 years ago.

Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor yesterday confirmed that the party will host a press conference today.

The party is said to have agreed to task politburo members, such as lawyer Sisa Namandje and Swapo’s legal secretary Pohamba Shifeta, to assist in explaining its stance.

President Hage Geingob has been under pressure from a faction in Swapo aligned to ruling party vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who has been against same-sex marriage in Namibia.

Her faction has since the judgement claimed, including in Cabinet discussions, that there is a “homosexuality agenda” in Namibia’s sex education system.

The president, who is seen as not against same-sex marriages, has told people close to him that Swapo’s stance on same-sex marriage has not changed over the years.

This appears to be in reference to the Swapo Family Act which was incorporated into Namibian laws at independence.

The law says the fundamental principles governing marriage and family shall be as follows: Equality of men and women, bar any form of discrimination, and equality of all children.

“Marriage shall be the community of lives of a man and woman regulated by statute,” the law said.

However, a senior party leader who attended the meeting yesterday said the politburo agreed and made it clear that it recognises and respects the decision of the Supreme Court ruling.

“Our understanding is that the Supreme Court did not legalise but only focused on the aspect of immigration,” the leader told The Namibian.

The politician said they know the Supreme Court judgement is final, but insisted that “there is no harm in looking at the law in future”.

The Namibian understands decisions were made yesterday to approach the court to pass a law that would block the recognition of same-sex marriages.

It is, however, unclear whether it would pass the test of equality.

The Swapo Party Youth League has come out against the recent Supreme Court judgement.

Youth league secretary Ephraim Nekongo acknowledged the independence and authority of the courts in adjudicating matters, but emphasised that they are bound to interpret and apply existing laws.

He highlighted that Namibian laws currently do not allow for the recognition of same-sex marriage, leading to doubts about the compatibility of the court’s decision.

“The Namibian Constitution and the will of the majority of the Namibian people must therefore be respected. It is clear that this judgement has undermined our sacred identity as a country and a people,” Nekongo said.

He rejected what he perceived as an agenda of cultural imperialism by foreign entities, and called on the government to demonstrate that Namibians determine their own destiny, especially after the sacrifices made during the struggle for independence.

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