pride

Namibia High Court Overturns Law That Banned Gay Relations 

A high court in Namibia has overturned a law that previously criminalized gay sex in what is being hailed as a victory for LGBTQ+ campaigners after their continuous, and difficult, fight for human rights in African countries. 

In 1990, Namibia adopted a law after gaining independence from South Africa that banned “sodomy” and “unnatural offenses” relating to the LGBTQ+ people. 

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“I feel elated. I’m so happy. This really is a landmark judgment, not just for me, but for our democracy,” said Friedel Dausab, the Namibian LGBTQ+ activist who brought the case.

“I’m sitting next to my mum and we’re hoping that this message filters through to all families, so that kids are no longer estranged.”

“What threat does a gay man pose to society, and who must be protected against him?” the judgment said. 

“We are of the firm view that the enforcement of private moral views of a section of a community (even if they form the majority of that community), which are based to a large extent on nothing more than prejudice, cannot qualify as such a legitimate purpose.”

UNAids, the UN agency that advocates for global action on HIV and Aids, said “the law had fuelled discrimination against LGBTQ+ Namibians in healthcare facilities and that the ruling would encourage more people to come forward for HIV testing and treatment.”

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“By decriminalizing same-sex relationships, Namibia creates a safer environment for LGBTQ+ communities,” said Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UNAids’ regional director for east and southern Africa.

According to the Human Dignity Trust, a UK legal charity, it revealed that of the 64 countries around the world that criminalize relationships between same-sex couples, 31 of them are in Africa. 

“In a pan-African survey of 34 countries conducted between 2019 and 2021, Namibia ranked as the third most tolerant on the question of how people felt about having gay neighbors, with 64% of respondents saying either that they would like it or not care about it,” wrote Rachel Savage for the Guardian

“The picture on progress in LGBTQ+ rights across Africa is mixed. Gay sex bans were lifted in Namibia’s neighbours Angola and Botswana, in 2021 and 2019 respectively. However, Uganda strengthened its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation last year, imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes gay sex with a disabled person or someone over the age of 75,” Savage concluded