Namibia High Court Declares Colonial-Era Laws Criminalizing Same-Sex Acts Unconstitutional

Namibia High Court Declares Colonial-Era Laws Criminalizing Same-Sex Acts Unconstitutional

In a landmark decision, Namibia’s high court has declared colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex acts unconstitutional, marking a significant victory for the LGBTQ community.

Namibia, Bollywood Fever: A high court in Namibia declared two colonial-era laws that criminalized same-sex acts between men unconstitutional on Friday, marking a landmark win for the LGBTQ community in the southern African country.

The case was brought by Namibian activist Friedel Dausab with the support of the British-based non-governmental organization Human Dignity Trust. Dausab expressed his joy following the court’s decision, telling Reuters, “It’s a great day for Namibia. It won’t be a crime to love anymore.”

Namibia High Court Declares Colonial-Era Laws Criminalizing Same-Sex Acts Unconstitutional

Consensual same-sex activity is prohibited in more than half of the 54 African countries, according to ILGA, an international organization supporting LGBTQ rights. Téa Braun, chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, noted, “This victory also brings much-needed and renewed energy to other decriminalization efforts across Africa.”

Although convictions under Namibia’s “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual offences” laws were relatively rare, rights campaigners argue these laws perpetuated discrimination and instilled fear of arrest within the LGBTQ community. John Nakuta, a law professor at the University of Namibia, stated that the court’s order can be appealed by the Namibian government within 21 days.

Namibia inherited these laws when it gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Same-sex acts between men were initially criminalized under colonial rule. While South Africa has since decriminalized same-sex sexual activity and allows LGBTQ couples to adopt children, marry, and enter civil unions, other African countries have enacted harsh anti-LGBTQ laws. Last year, Uganda introduced one of the world’s strictest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” despite widespread condemnation from the West.

LGBTQ supporters gathered outside the court with banners reading “Get the law out of my love life” and “Peace, Love, Unity.” They expressed their elation over the court’s decision. Omar van Reenen, co-founder of the Namibia Equal Rights Movement, welcomed the judgment, saying the LGBTQ community in Namibia could finally feel like equal citizens. “The message that the court sent today is that we have every right to belong and exist in this country and that the constitution protects us,” van Reenen said.

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