gay rights

Gay 'spouses' case: Namibia's high court urges supreme court to change its mind

In a most unusual judgment, a full bench of Namibia’s high court has spelled out its strong disagreement with a decision made 21 years ago by that country’s highest court – and has urged the presently constituted Supreme Court to reconsider its views on the matter. The case, crucial for the country’s LGB community, and for human rights more broadly, concerned two same-sex couples (both couples involved one Namibian and one non-Namibian partner) ranged against the immigration authorities.

Read judgment

If ever there was a judgment that teaches the necessity for a reader to go beyond the text of the order, this is it.

Namibian government to appeal in gay fathers' surrogacy case

An important Namibian high court decision, seen as progressive and widely welcomed in the gay and lesbian community, is to be challenged in that country’s highest court. The high court had ordered the government to register a child, born of a surrogacy arrangement in South Africa, as a Namibian citizen by descent.

Twenty years is a lifetime in the law, especially when outdated laws and legal concepts have to be re-considered in the light of modern constitutional principles.

That’s one reason that a notice of appeal, filed by the Namibian government last week, points to a supreme court matter that could prove most interesting.

Namibian judge delivers landmark ruling on gay rights and the rights of a child born of gay parents

The case involves a same-sex couple where only one of the couple is a Namibian. They have had a child by surrogacy, and now applied for the child to be granted Namibian citizenship by descent. The minister of home affairs and immigration objected, saying there should first be a paternity test to establish whether the biological father was in fact the Namibian man rather than his partner. Now the court has found against the minister, saying there is no requirement in law for a ‘biological link’ between child and parent.

Read the judgment

The judge who decided this case, Thomas Masuku, was clear about the significance of the matter. In the first paragraph he wrote that sometimes society throws up a cluster of unprecedented situations that challenge the court to ‘extend the reaches of the law’. This sometimes happened with ‘ground-breaking decisions’ that required charting a new legal course. ‘This case is no different,’ he said.

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