Namibia: same-sex marriage is now a criminal offense with 5 years in jail

Namibia’s Senate on Wednesday passed legislation banning same-sex marriage and punishing its supporters, seen as an unconstitutional attack by the LGBTQ community.

The document, which was intended to contradict the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the recognition of certain unions concluded abroad, was passed by this council without any objections.

However, it still needs to be approved by the lower house and signed into law by President Hage Geingob to take effect. A member of the ruling SWAPO party Elder Filipe, told parliament: “That marriage union is between a man and a woman and not between same sex, and that must be respected.

“Marriage” is defined as a union “between persons of the opposite sex” and “spouse” as “one half of the legal union between two persons born male and female” defined by the text .

The new law states that marriages concluded abroad between two people of the same sex cannot be recognized in Namibia.

It further makes solemnizing, participating in, promoting or advertising such a marriage a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for up to six years and a fine of up to 100,000 Namibian dollars ($5,500).

“It seems like a direct attack on the LGBTQ community,” LGBTQ rights activist Zindri Swartz told AFP. “It’s a blatant violation of our dignity and humanity.”

Same-sex sex is banned in Namibia under the adult ban law of 1927, which is rarely enforced. But in recent years, the South African nation has seen a number of lawsuits over the marriage, parenting and immigration rights of same-sex couples.

In May, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages ending abroad between Namibian citizens and foreigners should be recognized.

The decision angered conservatives in the sparsely populated, mostly Christian country, a tourist destination known for its nature and wildlife.

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