Police arrested an individual for waving a Pride rainbow flag at anti-LGBTQ+ protestors on Friday
The Methodist Church in Namibia called on its members to refrain from participating in marches against the LGBTQ+ community that were planned to take place across the country.
The protests were organised by religious leaders to condemn the recent historic Supreme Court ruling that recognised same-sex marriages conducted in other countries.
Approximately 150 anti-LGBTQ+ protestors gathered and marched in Windhoek on Friday, holding a prayer session and submitting a petition to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Speaking amidst cheers from supporters, Shirley Magazi, Chairperson of the Christian Coalition of Churches in Namibia, called for “an act of parliament to specifically prohibit the practices of homosexuality in Namibia.”
She further emphasised that the law should also prohibit “any funding that promotes such practices in the country.”
According to the Namibian Sun, two LGBTQ+ supporters were detained by the police. Video footage posted online suggests that a demonstrator confronted an LGBTQ+ individual who was waving a Pride flag at the crowd and forcefully pulled them towards the police. During the incident, the derogatory anti-gay slur “moffie” was heard being used against the individual, after which they were arrested.
The Namibia Equal Rights Movement characterised the arrests as instances of “state-sanctioned homophobia” and called on the Ombudsman of Namibia to investigate the matter. It’s been reported that the two activists were released at a later time
It was reported that another planned mass protest in the Oshana Region, which has the second-largest population in Namibia after Windhoek, was a failure. Only a handful of protestors showed up for the demonstration.
In a letter issued on Wednesday, Bishop Christopher Gaya of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) Namibia District expressed the church’s opposition to the protests.
Rev. Gaya reminded members that “the MCSA, at its 2001 conference, adopted the principle that seeks a community of love rather than rejection” and that “any form of victimisation, hatred, or violence towards homosexual people should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
In light of these principles, he advised all Methodists, including clergy and congregants, to refrain from participating in the protest, which he described as “a grave violation of the LGBTIQ+ community’s human rights.”
Consensual “sodomy” between men remains illegal in Namibia, and LGBTQ+ individuals could be prosecuted under this law, although no such cases have been reported since the country gained independence in 1990.