Namibia’s upper chamber of parliament has enacted a law prohibiting same-sex marriage and penalising advocates, which the LGBTQ community views as an unconstitutional attack.
The text, which was intended to counteract a Supreme Court decision that enabled the recognition of certain unions contracted abroad, was adopted by this assembly without resistance. However, it must still be approved by the lower house and signed into law by President Hage Geingob.
A member of the ruling SWAPO party, Elder Filipe, told parliament that “The marital union is between a man and a woman and that must be respected.”
The text defines “marriage” as a union “between persons of opposite sexes” and “spouse” as “half of a legal union between two persons born genetically male and female”.
Marriages concluded abroad between two people of the same sex are not recognized in Namibia, according to the new law.
It also makes the solemnization, participation in, promotion, or advertisement of such a marriage a crime punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Namibian dollars ($5,500).
Sex between homosexuals is prohibited in Namibia under a 1927 sodomy law, which is rarely enforced.
However, the southern African country has seen multiple court disputes in recent years concerning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, have children, and immigrate.
The Supreme Court declared in May that same-sex weddings between Namibian nationals and foreigners concluded abroad should be recognized.
Conservatives in this sparsely populated and mostly Christian country, a major tourist destination for its wildlife and beauty, have been outraged by the decision.