Conservatives protest against abortion and same-gender marriage …as landmark same sex marriage judgment is slated for Thursday

Tujoromajo Kasuto

About less than 20 people this morning protested before the Windhoek High Court against same-sex marriages and abortion.

The High Court is expected on Thursday to deliver a judgement in a case where same sex couples are suing the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for violating their right to dignity, equality, family and to live, work in Namibia freely.

The couples lawfully married in South Africa and Germany state that the ministry’s refusal to recognise their civil unions have impacted the families’ rights to be recognised as guardians of their children and to be domiciled in Namibia.

South African Daniel Digashu and his Namibian husband Johann Potgieter who tight the knot in South Africa had their landmark case heard last May.

Whilst, Annette Seiler, a Namibian, and her German wife, Anita Seiler-Lilles, intended to migrate and retire in Annette’s country. They filed a lawsuit against the government when the ministry denied Seiler-Lilles’ application for permanent residency because it does not recognise their same-sex marriage in Germany.

In addition, last May, their High Court lawsuit for marriage recognition was joined with the Digashu-Potgieter case.

Meanwhile in another controversial event for the week the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development & Family Affairs yesterday begun conducting public hearings on the three petitions received by the National Assembly with regard to legalisation and non-legalisation of Abortion in Namibia, as well as the call to liberalise or reform the current Abortion and Sterilization Act No. 2 of 1975.

The hearings started in the regions of Kunene and Omusati on Monday 17 January and will go on until next Tuesday. Last year the scheduled hearings took place in the regions of Omaheke and Erongo. Between 2018 and 2020, 124 women faced five years in prison for illegal abortions. Last year over 600 girls who were in school fell pregnant and 50 percent of them dropped out of school because of unplanned pregnancies.

In addition, the Voices for Choices and Rights (VCRC) had also announced they will be hosting conscientisation dialogues on women’s access to health, rights and women’s agency linked to the abortion law reform in all 14 regions between November 2021 and September 2022.

Based on records, this will be the very first for Namibia to educate the public on their reproductive rights pertaining to the Abortion and Sterilisations Act of 1975.
From 18 to 22 October 2021 the Committee conducted consultative hearings with the petitioners, line ministries and other stakeholders in Windhoek. VCRC gave submissions in favour of the legalisation of abortion.

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