In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court of Namibia has ruled that the government is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other nations between citizens and foreign nationals.
In a 4-1 vote, the judges overturned a previous ruling from the country’s High Court that said these marriages could not be acknowledged.
The litigants spoke with LGBTQ Nation about their fight for equal rights.
“This Court accordingly found that the approach of the Ministry to exclude spouses, including the appellants, in a validly concluded same-sex marriage… infringes both the interrelated rights to dignity and equality of the appellants,” stated the ruling.
The lawsuit was brought by a Namibian woman who married a German woman, as well as a Namibian man who married a South African man (South Africa is the only African country where same-sex marriage is legal). The non-Namibian spouses could not obtain resident rights in the country, so the couples sued.
Homosexuality remains illegal in the Christian-majority nation, though according to Africa News, the 1927 sodomy law is almost never enforced.
“Today’s verdict and outcome clearly indicates that Namibia is moving towards recognizing diversity in this country irrespective of people’s political or social positioning,” LGBTQ+ rights activist Linda Baumann told Reuters.
“Today after a six-year battle, we finally won, and the court has ruled that the Ministry of Home Affairs has to recognize these marriages by foreign spouses to Namibian spouses,” Carli Schickerling, a lawyer who represented the couples, told VOA.
Baumann also spoke with VOA and cautioned that there are so many more rights to fight for.
“It is important to understand the status of this case; it’s couples that are coming back to this country to claim their right to equality, their right to dignity and their right to family. To answer that question about same-sex marriages, I believe that a lot of LGBTQ people in this country, we experience a number of inequalities in service, in benefits, in having the right to say something over your partner.”
She hopes this ruling will lead to other rights for same-sex couples as well.