Namibia: Amnesty Calls for Calm Ahead of “Sodomy” Case Court Ruling


Amnesty International has urged the Namibian authorities to ensure the safety of LGBTI people before, during, and after the expected 21 June ruling in a case challenging the “sodomy” and “unnatural offences” laws.

These colonial-era laws criminalise same-sex sexual conduct and legitimise discrimination and stigma against LGBTI Namibians.

Namibia’s High Court is set to decide on Friday a case filed by LGBTI activist Friedel Dausab. The case challenges the constitutionality of the laws criminalising same-sex sexual conduct and petitions the court to nullify all previous convictions under them.

Namibia has experienced a fierce anti-LGBTI backlash in the past year, primarily driven by faith and religious leaders, following a May 2023 Supreme Court decision recognising same-sex unions performed abroad.

Namibia’s parliament responded by passing legislation in September 2023 to restrict the right to marriage equality for LGBTI people. This seek to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminate against trans people, and criminalise any support, celebration, or promotion of same-sex unions with up to six years in jail and hefty fines.

Reports from Namibian activists suggest police have not permitted the same freedom of assembly for LGBTI groups as for religious gatherings. The community has further been rocked by the often brutal murder of six LGBTI individuals over the past few months,

Amnesty International said it has also received distressing accounts of violent cyber-attacks and a surge in online harassment against LGBTI people, as well as frequent targeting and scapegoating by politicians ahead of the November 2024 elections.

The organisation urged the authorities to protect LGBTI people from harassment, violence, or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It also asserted that LGBTI groups and individuals must be able to assemble and associate without fear of intimidation, discrimination, or attacks.

“In recent weeks, Amnesty International has observed alarming rhetoric threatening LGBTI persons in Namibia,” said Khanyo Farise, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, in a statement.

“This disturbing pattern echoes the aftermath of another case last year concerning the rights of LGBTI individuals, which led to a notable surge in discrimination and hostile rhetoric against them in Namibia.”

“Whatever the outcome of the High Court decision on 21 June, violence and discrimination against LGBTI people have no place in Namibian society. Authorities should take decisive action to prevent human rights violations against LGBTI persons and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Farise.


Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend