UNAIDS celebrates scrapping of sodomy law

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS) has commended the High Court’s decision to declare the common law crimes of sodomy and “unnatural sexual offences” of Namibia as unconstitutional and invalid.

In a press statement issued on Friday morning, UNAIDS said the court found the law incompatible with the constitutional rights of Namibian citizens.

“This decision, which is in line with a series of judgements by courts in southern Africa in recent years, marks a significant victory for equality and human rights for all Namibians and will help protect the health of everyone,” the statement reads.

UNAIDS regional director for east and southern Africa Anne Githuku-Shongwe says this decision by the High Court is a powerful step towards a more inclusive country.

“The colonial-era common law that criminalised same-sex sexual relations perpetuated an environment of discrimination and fear, often hindering access to essential healthcare services for LGBTQ+ individuals. To protect everyone’s health, we need to protect everyone’s human rights,” she says.

She says this apartheid law created a climate that discouraged LGBTQI+ individuals from seeking HIV testing and treatment, undermining efforts to control the epidemic.

“By decriminalising same-sex relationships, Namibia creates a safer environment for LGBTQ+ communities.

“This allows them to access vital healthcare services, contributing to the global goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” Githuku-Shongwe says.

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