Namibia: Court Overturns Law Criminalizing Homosexual Relations

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A Windhoek court in Namibia invalidated a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexual relations, a decision that has been celebrated by the LGBTQ community. “The offense of sodomy is declared unconstitutional and invalid,” stated the High Court of the Namibian capital in its ruling. The court also ruled that “offenses against nature” were contrary to the Constitution.

The judges of the High Court of Namibia argued, “We are not convinced that in a democratic society such as ours, it is reasonably justifiable to criminalize an activity solely because a segment, or even a majority, of the citizenry disapproves of it.” This landmark decision strikes down a law from the colonial era that criminalized homosexual relations in the southern African country.

The sodomy law, which prohibited sexual relations between homosexuals in Namibia, dated back to 1927 when the country was under South African mandate. Since Namibia’s independence in 1990, the law had not been revised but was rarely enforced.

LGBTQ+ activist Friedel Dausab, who brought the case to the High Court, expressed his relief: “Thanks to this decision, I no longer feel like a criminal in my own country simply because of who I am.” His statement was made through the Human Dignity Trust, an association that supported the legal challenge.

This decision comes amid increasing intolerance towards LGBTQ+ individuals in southern Africa. Namibia has seen a surge in cases related to the rights of homosexuals to marry, become parents, or immigrate.

In May 2023, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of recognizing certain same-sex unions contracted abroad, a decision that angered conservative factions. In response, Parliament passed a law in July 2023 prohibiting same-sex marriage and penalizing its supporters. This legislation is currently awaiting ratification by the President.


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