News (World)

This African country just made history by decriminalizing homosexuality

Windhoek, Namibia - 05, 20, 2021: Namibian LGBTQIA rights Activists stand after a protest march in support of recognition of same sex marriages
Windhoek, Namibia - 05, 20, 2021: Namibian LGBTQIA rights Activists stand after a protest march in support of recognition of same sex marriages Photo: Shutterstock

Namibia’s High Court just declared a law criminalizing same-sex sexual encounters between men as unconstitutional.

The court’s ruling occurred in a case involving Friedel Dausab, a gay Namibian man, who argued that anti-gay sections of the country’s Immigration Control and Defense Acts — which forbids “sodomy” and other “unnatural sexual offenses” and also describes homosexuality as an “abominable vice” — constituted unfair discrimination and infringed on citizens’ fundamental rights, Time magazine reported.

The court’s judges found that the laws unfairly discriminate between straight men, women, and gay men. The laws were also “based on prejudice and unfounded societal biases,” the judges found.

Namibian Attorney General Festus Mbandeka argued that the country’s constitution doesn’t specifically guarantee rights based on sexual orientation. He said that social attitudes against homosexuality in the predominantly Christian country haven’t reached a point where legislators could repeal the country’s anti-homosexual laws.

Despite this, Daub said of the ruling, “This is good for young LGBTQ people to know that their love is not a crime. It is a great day for Namibia.”

Homosexuality has been recorded throughout Namibian culture. It was only formally outlawed as a result of colonial-era laws established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those laws were later included in post-colonial legislation passed by Namibian lawmakers.

The country’s National Council Chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams said in 2019, “Irrespective of how uncomfortable it is, it is time that we should talk about the LGBTI community. They are part of our communities.” That same year, the country’s First Lady Monica Geingos said that the country’s anti-sodomy laws won’t last forever.

“[The] sodomy law’s days are numbered,” she said.

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