Namibia Supreme Court Rules Against Same-Sex Couple in Citizenship Case

Published: 21/Mar/2023
Source: Voice of America

By Vitalio Angula

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA — Gay rights activists in Namibia are decrying a Supreme Court decision that will effectively deny citizenship to a child born through surrogacy to a same-sex couple in South Africa. The case has ignited public debate in Namibia on what constitutes a family.

The ruling Monday by the Supreme Court of Namibia overturned a lower court decision that ordered the government to process a gay couple’s citizenship application for their child.

The high court ruled last year that the minister of Home Affairs and Immigration must process the application within thirty days.

However, the Minister of Home Affairs at the time, Frans Kapofi, appealed the judgment. He argued that the couple — Phillip Luhl, a Namibian citizen, and Guillermo Delgado, a Mexican national — had not proven that they were the actual parents of the child by submitting DNA results.

LGBTQ activist Linda Baumann told VOA the judgment of the Supreme Court is a major setback for Namibia’s LGBTQ community.

“The family and broadly us in the movement find it as ten steps back,” she said. “We also know that homophobia, bi-phobia and trans-phobia will be experienced when the family goes back to Home Affairs because now you have to go back to the person you have challenged in the court. We also know the frustration of harassment could occur because that is a common practice that happens against us when we try and push or advance our rights in this country.”

A full bench of Supreme Court judges agreed that Luhl and Delgado did not satisfy the requirements of the Citizenship Act in their application.

The Supreme Court held that the minister was correct in not granting the minor child citizenship by descent.

Speaking to journalists outside the Supreme Court, the lawyer for the two men, Uno Katjipuka, said the judges relied on technicalities when ruling on the appeal and did not consider the merits of the case.

She said the couple would now have to go back to the Home Affairs Ministry to register the birth of the child as a Namibian and said in all likelihood the registration will not be accepted.

The child was born in South Africa.

“All they’ve done is push the can or kick the can down the road to live, I don’t know, to consider these things another day but in my opinion it’s very unfortunate and not the sort of thing we expect to see from our Supreme Court,” said Katjipuka. “This was the time to deal with the merits and they chose not to, for a second time they chose not to.”

Kapofi, the former minister of Home Affairs, welcomed the judgment. He said the couple failed to prove that they were the fathers of the child by submitting DNA evidence to that effect.

Namibia’s Supreme Court heard other cases this month involving homosexuality. In one, a South African citizen who married a Namibian man in South Africa is asking to be granted citizenship by domicile. In another, a Namibian man is asking for the repeal of the country’s law, arguing that it is an invasion of privacy and discriminatory to people in homosexual relationships.

LGBTQ rights have divided public opinion in a country where the majority of the population identify as Christian and homosexuality is still regarded as taboo and abnormal.

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Themes: Acquisition by children, Discrimination, Gender
Regions: Namibia
Year: 2023