Same-sex marriage debate puts human dignity at stake

Niël Terblanché

The rights to human dignity, freedom from discrimination and freedom of association are enshrined rights in the Namibian Constitutional Rights which cannot be changed by any politician.

According to Advocate Richard Metcalfe, Article 25 of the Constitution specifically bars Parliament from making any law or the Executive from taking any action which abolishes or abridges such fundamental rights and freedoms.

Advocate Metcalfe’s reaction follows the private member’s bill that was tabled in Parliament last week. The debate reached a deadlock after parliamentarians from different sides of the political spectrum could not agree on the specific definitions of marriage or what defines the word spouse.

The private member’s bill was tabled in response to the Supreme Court ruling in May this year that afforded the spouses of Namibians in a same-sex marriage solemnised outside the borders of the country the same immigration status as spouses of people in heterosexual marriages.

The ruling created a wave of opposition from religious and political leaders which eventually resulted in the tabling of the bill to amend the detentions of marriages and related terminology.

“The crass ignorance of the National Council is amply exposed by slick and sly statements to the effect that the Constitution will be changed with 95 percent of the vote. Such statements display a total lack of a rudimentary understanding of the Namibian Constitution” Metcalfe said.

According to Advocate Metcalfe, 95 percent of the Parliamentary vote can never amend the enshrined rights of Namibians.

“Neither can 95 percent of any Parliamentary vote legislate the rights to human dignity or freedom from discrimination or freedom of association away from any citizen,” he said. Advocate Metcalfe stated that threats against the judiciary are issued to attempt to cower the Namibian judiciary into submission.

“It is precisely because narrow-minded persons need to be guided on the rights of all to human dignity, freedom from discrimination and freedom of association that our superior courts are called upon to rule upon the ambit of such rights,” he said.

He said that when the Supreme Court has delivered a verdict it must be the end of the issue whether politicians like it or not.

“The present joust and jibes at our judges are to be regretted,” he said.

Advocate Metcalfe stated that if Namibia is to remain a democracy the independence of the judiciary must be maintained and the decisions of our Supreme Court must be respected by everybody to ensure that democracy prevails in Namibia.

“If we don’t abide by Supreme Court decisions we are on the slippery slope to the demise of democracy,” he said. The legal practitioner said that Namibians have always lived by the principle of ‘live and let live’ and that human dignity will be threatened if the nation moves away from the age-old belief.

Related Posts