Mbumba mum on LGBTQI+ community issues

Mbumba mum on LGBTQI+ community issues

Linea Dishena

President Nangolo Mbumba has elected to remain mum on issues regarding the LGBTQI+ community that have been thrust into the public eye in recent months.

Swapo legislator Jerry Ekandjo’s private member’s bills, which deal with changes to the Marriage Act, including the prohibition of same-sex marriages and any acknowledgment of such unions in Namibia, have sailed through both chambers of Parliament last September.

The two draft legislations, the Definition of Spouses Bill and the Marriage Amendment Bill, were not signed into law by both late president Hage Geingob and his successor President Nangolo Mbumba.
The Bills attempted to nullify the Supreme Court judgement in May 2023 that recognised same-sex marriages contracted outside Namibia.

The High Court declared two colonial-era laws that criminalised same-sex acts between men unconstitutional in June in a landmark win for the local LGBTQI+ community.

The case was brought by Namibian activist Friedel Dausab. 

The LGBTQI+ community also raised concern about their safety, and feared that they were deliberately targeted due to their sexual orientation.

Over the past 12 months, at least six members of the community have been murdered.

However, home affairs minister Albert Kawana tabled the Mariage Bill in parliament last week. 

This legislation also does not recognise same-sex marriages.

Mbumba, during a courtesy visit by the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) on Friday, said “I cannot comment on it because I have arrows coming from the right, and arrows from the left. This one is saying ‘do this’, the other one is saying ‘don’t do this’. I am keeping mum because any step I take, I am getting deeper into trouble.”

The Head of State, however, said Namibians should be honest with themselves about humanity, spirituality, history and what has been read, whether from the Bible or any other book.
“We cannot create another world. This is the world. This humanity is the way we were made, and we can improve it, but we can also destroy it,” he said.

CCN executive committee chairperson Heinz Mouton said their leaders’ meeting, scheduled for this week, will discuss the matter in depth, and will give a response on its position on the matter.

“CCN is aware that His Excellency [Mbumba] is faced with the challenge of signing the two Bills,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kawana, while motivating the Marriage Bill in the National Assembly, stated that Namibia will not recognise same-sex marriages as the country’s values, traditions and customs are anchored in Christianity.

Activist Linda Baumann yesterday said it is important to allow the president to consult and explore the diverse advice he is getting.

“We should not force him to pronounce himself just because he is politically-affiliated with a particular political party. 

I believe he will pronounce himself once he has made a sound decision on the principles of the constitution that we believe in,” Baumann said.