The government of Namibia is being challenged by a gay couple in an attempt to have their same-sex marriage and adoption recognised by the state.
Namibian born, Johann Potgieter who married his South African husband, Daniel Digashu in South Africa are currently in the process of adopting a young boy.
However, neither the couples relationship nor family is recognised in Namibia, essentially hindering South African born Digashu and the boy’s right to live in Namibia where they moved in April.
The men have since have filed an urgent application in the Windhoek High Court against the government, the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, the Attorney General, the Immigration Selection Board, the Immigration Tribunal, and the Ombudsman.
According to local media The Namibian, they couple are asking the court to order the government to issue a certificate of identity to Digashu as Potgieter’s spouse, to recognise their marriage and family, and to recognise an order from the High Court of South Africa that granted them guardianship of their son.
With the adoption process well underway, the couple have been raising the eight-year-old boy since his mother, Digashu’s aunt, died in 2014.
Despite the court order, the family have faced multiple hurdles and instances of discrimination from officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, with Digashu being forced to go in and out of the country on various visas.
Friedel Dausab, who is the Director of OutRight Namibia (ORN), told Mambaonline that he had contacted the lawyer representing the couple to offer them the organisation’s technical and moral support.
“The case forces our hand to deal with issues on marriage equality and same-sex adoptions and parental recognition,” Dausab says.
“We would like to support the couple and work towards a win for the sake of all LGBTIQ+ folks in Namibia.”
Believing that the men have a strong case, Dausab says, “They already live as parents and as a family and are asking for protection. This is their right. Their success or failure could have far-reaching consequences for any other LGBTIQ+ person dealing with the Namibian legal environment in the future.”
Consensual “sodomy” is illegal in Namibia and could be used to prosecute gay men, however, such cases are not believed to have happened in recent years since the country’s independence in 1990.
A 2016 United Nations Human Rights Committee report urged Namibia to adopt legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in the Labour Act, and adopt hate crime legislation punishing homophobic and transphobic violence, however, progress remains slow.
Last Updated on Dec 19, 2017