Namibia

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.

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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.

Namibia’s apex court ‘seriously censures’ police officers for malicious arrest and acting as though ‘beyond any level of accountability’

Namibia’s highest court has sternly reproved elements of the country’s police service for seriously abusing their power and acting ‘as if they were beyond any level of accountability’. In its official summary of the case, the supreme court wrote that the ‘highhanded conduct of the police officers called for serious censure by this court.’ The case concerns Bernhardt Lazarus who runs a bar in Windhoek and who was terrorised by some members of the police who repeatedly arrested him, without warrant or cause.

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The decision of the supreme court in this case has been well over a year in the making, and one of the three judges who heard the matter, Justice Elton Hoff, noted at the top of the judgment that the litigants were due an apology for the delay in delivering the decision. It has to be said that for the courts to acknowledge when they don’t deliver timely decisions is a welcome development and fair to all the parties involved.

Scrap colonial era common law crime of sodomy, urges Namibia's law reform commission

Namibia’s law reform and development commission has released a detailed report on what it terms the ‘possibly obsolete’ common law crimes of sodomy and unnatural offences. It traces the origins of these offences as well as their applicability today and concludes that the laws should be repealed, in line with the similar moves in many other countries.

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Was the release of Namibia’s special report that recommended scrapping the common law crimes of sodomy and unnatural offences specially timed as a prelude to international Pride Month? Even if it was not, the report itself, and some of the high-profile reaction to it, will have been a cause of celebration to many in Namibia and elsewhere.

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