Thou Shalt Be Tolerant

Last week’s historic judgement decriminalising sexual acts between men is a key leap toward a more equal and tolerant Namibia.

The judgement doesn’t instantly transform Namibia into a tolerant, rainbow nation. However, it signifies a crucial step towards building a stronger foundation for equality for all.

High Court judges Nate Ndauendapo, Shafimana Ueitele and Claudia Claasen Friday declared the common law offences of sodomy and “unnatural sexual offences” unconstitutional.

“[W]e are not persuaded that in a democratic society such as ours, with a Constitution which promises recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family and the pursuit of individual happiness, it is reasonably justifiable to make an activity criminal just because a segment, maybe a majority, of the citizenry consider it to be unacceptable.”

They nailed that judgement.

As expected, sections of the public have been pushing back on the judgement, claiming it is an attack on humanity and is destructive to the fabric of the country and society.

Namibians should reject attention-seeking attempts by populists to hijack this important conversation such as con-man accused Michael Amushelelo’s vile attack on justice minister Yvonne Dausab.

Similarly, calls by a committee against homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Namibia are nothing short of grandstanding.

President Nangolo Mbumba should be applauded for taking a strong stance against calls to fire Dausab.
Likewise, his refusal to sign the anti-gay marriage bills is progressive.

While Mbumba and late president Hage Geingob’s commitment to equality is commendable, the future hinges on the next generation of leaders, leaders who appreciate the importance of equality and tolerance.

Leaders, as the court said, should not make decisions based on majority views. Or, for that matter, on misplaced religious views.

It’s a pity Namibians use religion to spew hate and prejudice.

In 1763, Voltaire said that “of all religions, the Christian is undoubtedly that which should instil the greatest toleration, although so far the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men”.

Sadly, intolerance continues to exist up until today. But after last week’s judgement, there seems to be hope at the end of the tunnel.

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