By Patience Nyangove
CABINET has set aside the legalising of same sex marriages and abortion in the country because the two matters are controversial and are against the majority of the population’s religious and cultural beliefs, the Minister of Justice, Dr Albert Kawana has said.
Kawana’s comments come in the wake of the United Nations’ recommendations last week that Namibia should look into legalising same sex marriages.
Kawana said the issue of legalising same sex marriages in the country was a difficult issue because the country was mostly made up of a 90 percent population whose Christian beliefs was against the practice.
“It’s a difficult issue. Namibia being a Christian country where 90 percent of the population is of the Christian faith it doesn’t tally with what the United Nations committee has asked of us. Our cultural background also does not allow homosexuality. Also in the international committee there is no consensus on this issue. Asian countries, Moslem nations and a number of Africa countries don’t agree with the UN on this matter. The difference is that in Namibia we don’t prosecute people. There is no case ever recorded that someone has either been arrested or discriminated because of their sexual orientation unlike in other countries.”
Kawana said Namibia was not in a hurry to legalise same sex marriages and abortion. He said the country can’t just wake up and decide to amend its Constitution.
“This issue was reported to Cabinet together with that one of abortion and 219 other recommendations from the UN that Namibia must consider. We accepted quite a number in March this year. On the issues of same sex marriages and abortion, Cabinet decided to set them aside. Government can’t wake up overnight and tell people to accept or not these issues. We need to consult widely and adopt a position accepted by the majority.
“In as much as we are an elected Government, Cabinet felt that more consultations are needed. We are setting aside abortion and same sex marriages for now. Cabinet can order a referendum or consultations on the matter but for now cabinet has suspended the matters. These processes take a lot of time and we are not in a hurry. The Supreme Court a long time ago ruled that same sex marriages are illegal. Now we just have to decide to decriminalise or abolish them.
“The Constitution must be preserved it is a reflection of certain values of our people. In 2014 we amended the Constitution now again we can’t amend it just like that. We can’t amend the Constitution as we feel, we need to protect it. It’s up to the nation to decide to change the Constitution or not.”
Kawana added that nobody in the country was being persecuted or discriminated over their sexual orientation.
“There is no need to persecute them but at the same time a scenario of heavily bearded men or women in lipstick marrying each other is a no,” Kawana said.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activist, Wendelinus Hamutenya called on Government to rethink and urgently legalise same sex marriages in the country.
“We have to travel outside the country to get married yet we are in an independent country. Fifty percent of this population is gay. You find many young gay people at schools living in fear because of discrimination. Many older people who are either guardians or parents to LGBT people threaten them that if they come out in the open about their sexual orientation they will stop taking care of them. If we had legalised the rights of LGBT people this would not be happening. President (Hage) Geingob said no Namibian should be left out so why are we being left out? Some of us can’t even attend church because we are barred. However they are some church people who have accepted us for what we are and are willing to preside over our marriages but can’t because of the law,” he said.
The secretary general of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), Reverend Maria Kapere was adamant that same sex marriages and abortion should not be legalised in the country.
“I’m in the process to call upon Namibians to sign petitions against same sex marriages and abortion in November. We need three months to gather at least 1 800 signatories and hand them over to our Government,” she said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015