In celebration of Pride Month, we’re profiling one of our newest partners, Equal Namibia.
Equal Namibia is a youth movement for equality, led by grassroots activists and community organizers, supported by a coalition of individuals and civil society organizations, committed to realizing the Constitutional promise of equality and fundamental civil rights, to its fullest extent, for LGBTQ+ persons.
The movement was formally established in 2021 after its social justice actions brought together progressive individuals and organisations in the Namibian LGBTQ+ community. The impetus for this was in response to the Namibian States’ refusal to grant travel documents to children born via surrogate to a same-sex Namibian parent and his Mexican-born husband. Equal Namibia have labelled this State-Sanctioned homophobia and called for an end to this legal practice.
Litigating for LGBTQ+ Rights
As a result of the movement’s intensive lobbying and advocacy alongside the litigation, the High Court ruled in favour of the couple, noting “gender and sexual orientation” as prohibited grounds of discrimination. This is the first time a Namibian court has interpreted Article 10 [Equality and Freedom from Discrimination] to include LGBTQ+ status, placing Namibia 50 years ahead in terms of equality in the African region. This is an important legal and societal milestone in an area in which state-sanctioned homophobia puts the lives of LGBTQ+ persons at extreme risk. The Ministry Home Affairs also reversed its policy, allowing the surrogate children entry and reunification with their Namibian family.
Unfortunately, while even the Supreme Court has found that Home Affairs discriminated against the couple, they have declined to declare State-Sanctioned Homophobia unconstitutional. Unfortunately, this does little to change the status quo of injustice in Namibia.
Equal Namibia has since mobilized more than 9 active LGBTQ+ civil and human rights court cases against the Ministry of Home Affairs, and will continue the fight until all LGBTQ+ persons are equal before the law.
An essential aspect of the work of Equal Namibia has been raising the profile of LGBTQ+ struggles and challenges in Namibian society. Its work in legislative reform is positioning the human rights of the community in the mainstream. Through a petition campaign in 2021, the organization garnered 6000 signatures and lobbied the Minister of Justice to table the Decriminalisation of Sodomy Bill before Cabinet. The tabling of the Bill is a victory and, if passed, will legalize homosexuality/consensual same-sex sexual activity among men.
Celebrating LGBTQ+ Rights
In addition to their litigation and advocacy, Equal Namibia ensures that it uses every possible platform to support the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ persons. In December 2021 Equal Namibia hosted Namibia’s first-ever intersectional Pride festivities, a week-long celebration of LGBTQ+ rights. In June 2022 in honour of Pride Month the organization has once again celebrated week-long festivities in recognition of LGBTQ+ rights. This year we supported the re-painting of Namibia’s first and Africa’s second Rainbow Sidewalk, symbolizing acceptance, love and Namibian Queer diversity.
For more on our Namibian partner's work, struggles and victories, please follow them here.