Namibia
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Anti-gay bills passed by National Council

The National Council (NC) yesterday passed the private member’s bills introduced by Swapo lawmaker Jerry Ekandjo to define the term ‘spouse’ and amend the Marriage Act of 1961.

Ekandjo last week introduced a bill on the definition of ‘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 tabled a bill to change sections of the Marriage Act, including the definitions of the terms ‘marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘spouse’.

The bill further seeks to prohibit same-sex marriage, the solemnisation of same-sex marriages, and to deny the recognition thereof.

The bills were passed with minimal amendments and were overwhelmingly supported by both sides of the house.

The bill on the definition of the word ‘spouse’ sailed through the committee stage without objection.

The marriage amendment bill is the fifth one to be passed by the NC in three weeks.

In his final contribution to the bill, Swapo’s Tobias Hainyeko constituency councillor Likuwa Christopher said 99% of Namibians are Christians.

“I fail to understand in today’s Namibia for a magistrate to bond two men or women and bless them together. What will they reproduce? Water, stones, or what? If they produce zero, that means they are planning to kill the future generation,” he said.

Christopher said that he appreciates the bill and thanked Ekandjo for tabling it.

“Any Namibian who is found doing this practice must be punished,” he said.

He requested the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health and Social Services to make social workers available to anyone who wants to practise sodomy.

Supporting Christopher, United Democratic Front (UDF) regional councillor for Khorixas, !Gobs Sebastiaan, said same-sex marriage in whatever form is not practised in any society.

He said he only supports marriage in “the way known to him”.

“Marriage is a legally and socially sanctioned union usually between a man and a woman,” he said.

Okahao constituency councillor and Swapo member Shikulo Leornard said it is important that family values are protected and preserved.

“From the onset, marriage is between a man and woman with the aim of reproduction. Any deterioration of such a natural relationship is a disgrace,” he said.

He said same-sex marriage must be condemned in its totality.

THE GENESIS

Ekandjo’s private member’s bills were tabled in parliament early this month after the executive director of home affairs, immigration, safety and security, Ettiene Maritz, said the ministry would abide by a Supreme Court judgement recognising same-sex marriages legally concluded outside the country.

On 16 May, the Supreme Court ruled against the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security’s refusal to recognise spouses in same-sex marriages validly concluded outside Namibia for immigration purposes in terms of Section 2(1)(c) of the Immigration Control Act of 1993.

The court found that the ministry’s stance infringed on those foreign nationals’ rights to dignity and equality under Namibian law.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Swapo member of parliament and minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein on Monday said the proposed bills are in conflict with enshrined rights in Namibia’s Constitution.

He said he believes the bills are against human rights as enshrined in the Constitution, which he says cannot be changed by any politician or parliamentarian.

Schlettwein took to social media last week, saying liberty is “freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction and hampering conditions, or the power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, according to choice”.

“The parliament approved to interfere with, restrict, hamper and criminalise a choice of affection,” the minister tweeted.

Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani last week in parliament said Ekandjo’s proposed anti-gay law would have to pass a constitutionality test.