Namibia high court overturns law banning gay sex

Finally, some positive news for the country's queer community.

Namibia high court overturns law banning gay sex

Things appear to be becoming increasingly complicated for LGBTQ people in Namibia, with a growing divide between conservative politicians seeking to persecute queer people and the country’s courts who appear to be interpreting the laws to protect queer people.

The latest development is a decision by Namibia’s high court that has overturned a law that criminalised gay sex.

The specific law that criminalised sodomy – anal sex between men – was inherited from South Africa when Namibia gained independence in 1990.

A Namibian man, Friedel Dausab, was the plaintiff in a legal action that challenged the law.

A 3-judge bench of the high court agreed with the plaintiff’s case that the anti-sodomy law was inconsistent with the anti-discrimination protections contained within Namibia’s constitution.

The point that the plaintiff was making was that anal sex was only criminalised if it happens between two men and is not criminalised if it happens between a man and a woman.

“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.”

It is possible that Namibia’s government will seek to appeal against the High Court’s ruling.

The downside of the High Court’s decision is that it’s likely that it will fuel the homophobia of the country’s socially conservative politicians.

Two recent decisions of Namibia’s Supreme Court effectively recognised same-sex marriages performed in other countries, and granted some adoption rights to same-sex couples. That resulted in political outrage and prompted the passing of legislation that overturned the court’s decisions and explicitly banned same-sex marriage in Namibia.

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