The unfolding debate about the rights of sexual minorities has been heating up, with more voices entering the fray, either in support or against the issue.
Government, through the justice ministry, recently announced it was considering repealing common law offences of sodomy and unnatural sexual offences.
Cabinet is expected to pronounce itself on the abolishment of the common law offences of sodomy and unnatural sexual offences following justice minister Yvonne Dausab’s submission of such a report to it.
However, while there is seemingly a dramatic
increase in public acceptance of homosexuality in some parts of the world, some politicians and religious groups are protesting against proposals to explicitly recognise LGBTQ+ rights.
Even the ruling party appears to be divided on the issue. Its youth wing leader Ephraim Nekongo did not pull any punches last week when he stated they were “sickened” by the growing debate and proposals to legalise homosexuality, and wants the authorities to rather focus on pertinent issues such as addressing rampant unemployment among young people.
There have been no further pronouncements by top Swapo leaders on the issue. But the tone of secretary general Sophia Shaningwa, who was recently asked to comment on the topic by a local daily, suggests a house divided. Opposition politicians also slammed such proposals this week. “God created Adam and Eve for a reason. He created Eve as his helper.
That is why God instituted a marriage between a man and a woman to be husband and wife. Whatever is going to be tabled, the Christian Democratic Voice (CDV) will not support the debate,” party leader Gotthard Kandume said. Proponents of the anti-sodomy law have also hit back, calling on government to urgently address “entrenched misogyny and religiosity”, and the way sexual minorities are treated so that they can be protected legally, citing examples such as South Africa, which was the first country in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. But challenges still persist. There have been numerous reports accusing South African law enforcement agencies of failure to uphold the rights of lesbians and transgender men. Equal Namibia co-founder Omar van Reenen went as far as calling on ombudsman John Walters to “condemn homo-transphobic hate speech and investigate SPYL’s incitement of violence.” Van Reenen feels SPYL dehumanised and severely discriminated against a minority group (the LGBTQ+ community).
The ongoing debate, coupled with the fight for equality for homosexuals, will be a long one for our nation. While Cabinet will have to make a decision on the way forward, it is incumbent upon citizens, young and old, to treat each other with respect. It is almost certain that tempers will flare as the debate heats up. But whatever side of the debate you are on, the right thing to do is to respect each other. No one has ever convinced anyone else of their argument by shouting and poking a finger in the opponent’s face. That’s how you alienate those with opposing views. Let’s calmly engage each other.