President Hage Geingob says marriage in Namibia is between a man and a woman.
The President made these remarks during a courtesy call by Swapo National Council members at State House yesterday.
“Already before you were born, we defined that marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Geingob.
While he agrees with Namibia’s definition of marriage, he was seemingly referring to the recent Supreme Court ruling which recognised same-sex marriages solemnised outside Namibia.
Geingob has expressed his admiration for the independence of the judiciary and commended the legislative process of the Marriage Amendment Bill, recently introduced by Swapo member of parliament Jerry Ekandjo.
The veteran politician wants the bill to provide a precise definition of the term ‘spouse’, in tandem with Namibia’s definition of marriage.
He believes that the private member’s bill approach was the appropriate way to address the matter.
However, Geingob hastened to say lawmakers must be cautious in executing their duties.
“We have to be careful,” he warned.
The President also registered his disappointment in the performance of the ruling party in parliament.
“I can’t believe what I am seeing there. You are making it look like we are the minority,” he said.
The bill has thus far sailed through both the National Assembly and National Council, and will go back to parliament before it receives attention from the head of state.
Although the decision-making body overwhelmingly supports the bill, there remains scepticism due to its perceived rushed nature.
Human rights expert John Nakuta has expressed his disappointment with how the bill was handled, saying it is compromising the rights of the minority.
He argued that both Houses have completely rejected and seemingly have not considered Article 5 of the Namibian Constitution that says all rights in this chapter shall be respected and upheld by the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
“According to Article 5, do not make any law that violates the rights of any person. So, it is in that context that it is very disappointing for both Houses to have disregarded the constitutional obligations and oaths that they have sworn to, to uphold the rights of all people and the constitution in particular,” Nakuta reiterated.
Asked about the way forward, he said the fate of the bill is in the hands of the President to decide to assent or not.
He, however, advised the President to rather withhold his signature in order to maintain his mantra that says “no one should be left out”.
“We are all members of the Namibian house, whether we are homosexual or heterosexual. He must stick to his words, and there is no doubt a court of law will find this bill unconstitutional,” Nakuta stated.