HomeTop StoriesNamibia's gay sex ban has been declared unconstitutional

Namibia’s gay sex ban has been declared unconstitutional

In a landmark ruling for gay rights activists, laws banning sexual acts between men of the same sex have been declared unconstitutional in Namibia.

Convictions for colonial-era crimes like “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual crimes” were rare, but fueled discrimination against gay men who lived in fear of arrest.

There are no laws prohibiting sex between women in Namibia.

Same-sex marriage is still illegal in the South African country.

But if a same-sex couple gets married abroad and then returns to the country, their union is legally recognized.

After Friday’s verdict was read out at a high court in the capital Windhoek, campaigners from the LGBTQ group Equal Namibia shared photos of people embracing in court.

“Welcome to a new Namibia. A born free Namibia,” the group said on social media.

The term “born free” was most commonly used in neighboring South Africa to describe the first generation of children who grew up in the dawn of democracy after white minority rule ended in 1994.

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The lawsuit was filed by a Namibian activist named Friedel Dausab, with support from the British charity Human Dignity Trust.

“It will no longer be a crime to love,” Dausab said in response to the verdict.

Summing up his emotions, he told Reuters he was “just happy”.

The UN also welcomed the ruling, calling it a “strong step” towards a more inclusive nation that would also improve access to healthcare and HIV treatment.

Fearing a backlash over the ruling, rights group Amnesty International is urging the Namibian government to ensure the safety and dignity of LGBTQ people.

It said it had already documented cases of “alarming” and “threatening” statements in the country in the run-up to the trial.

First colonized by Germany, Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990 after a lengthy bush war.

More stories about Namibia from the BBC:

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[Getty Images/BBC]

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