Windhoek, 24 May 2021
We, as concerned Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society Organisations protecting and promoting human rights in Namibia, hereby condemn the homophobic statement issued by the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) on 19 May 2021. In the statement SPYL Secretary, Ephraim Tuhadeleni Nekongo, noted that “Homosexuality is satanic yet demonic practices and must never be legalized in Namibia” (sic). We believe that these statements serve as gross dehumanization and degradation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community and reinforces a culture of prevalent stigma and discrimination.
It is disheartening to see a national youth organisation use such inflammatory language and shirk its responsibility to provide the Namibian youth with informed positions on the discourse of human rights. The Namibian youth has been instrumental in creating safe spaces for equality movements and can only continue to do so if their leaders are able to facilitate the process in an usenbiad and non-discriminatory manner.
We remind our national leaders of Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution that upholds the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of all citizens, including members of the LGBTQIA community. These rights and freedoms are intrinsic, fundamental and inalienable and must be taken into account when we consider the rise of hate speech that has the potential to add to the ongoing prevalance of homophobic, transphobic and interphobic attacks perpetuated against the LGBTIQIA community by some segments of society of which the SPYL has joined the chorus. This kind of rhetoric must be addressed in order to ensure protection of the rights to bodily autonomy and integrity (BAI) for the dignity and wellbeing of all citizens.
It is imperative to clarify to the SPYL that homosexuality in Namibia was never illegal nor criminalised. The practice of “unnatural sexual offences” and the common law of sodomy are currently the legislative frameworks that criminalise consenting same-sex adults; of which the report put forth by Law Reform Development Commission clearly indicates that these provisions conssitutute constitutional violations of LGBTQIA person’s rights. This submission to the Ministry of Justice is for parliament to deliberate on from a contextual and human rights centric framework, that would amplify unity, liberty and justice.
As a national consortium we are advocating for an end to all forms of hate speech, harassment and discrimination of members of the LGBTQIA community. Furthermore, we call upon national parties and institutions to refrain from violating the rights of Namibian citizens based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
We therefore call on the SPYL to show leadership in ending discrimination which undermines full recognition and attainment of human rights, access to health services and justice. Let us create a Namibian society that is free and accommodating of diversity to all.