No matter where or when we explore the history of humanity, we shall agree to a large extent that the existence of humanity is shaped by security. It is, therefore, why security research surpasses any other field.
In Namibian society, the vast majority of the population tends to sidestep the taboo topic of same-sex marriage and its security implications in correctional facilities. However, the moral decay caused by same-sex marriage, in general, seems to rouse public discussion. Historically, legitimate marriages have been those that involve males and females (Gate, 2015). Perhaps, this is based on the biological nature of the human species and understanding that the natural conception of offspring occurs through intimate sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. However, in recent decades, there has been a significant global surge in same-sex marriages. This shift has been fostered by a myriad of factors that do not fall within the scope of this article. Instead, the focus of this piece is to examine the security repercussions of the legalisation of same-sex marriages, particularly in Namibian correctional facilities.
In broad terms, same-sex marriages can be defined as the marriage of two people of the same sex or gender, entered into in a civil or religious ceremony (Valleala, 2014). The categorisation of these groups involves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBT). In this context, legalising LGBT marriages in Namibia would mean that prisoners can request to marry and conduct marriage ceremonies at correctional facilities or be granted furloughs for marriage ceremonies outside. This would imply allowing intimate relationships within the correctional and police cells; otherwise, its denial would be interpreted as an infringement of such marriage law.
I believe that the supreme nature of humankind is more concealed in the art of belonging and finding a partner since most of our relationship is more delivered from having a partner that one can share turbulent life waves. Moreover, if such a life companion could be found in the correctional facilities, will this not among the factor that will not promote criminal activities? The question remains to be answered. Reverting to current affairs in the correctional facilities, cells are demarcated and built to accommodate both males and females separately. By allowing LGBT marriages in the correctional facilities, to a large extent, will mean accordingly dividing males and females’ offenders in correctional facilities. It will serve its current purpose but with minimal significance.
These assertions provide important insight that indulging in intimate partnership within the correctional facilities shall be common practice. In terms of security concerns of such undertakings, it might be more relevant to ask ourselves the following fundamental questions: in case of conjugal visits from one cell to another, will other prisoners tolerate the activities? Will the married prisoners, separated, be in one cell, and if this is the case, will this privilege not trample on the rights of heterosexual couples? These security issues should concern correctional administrators, policymakers and correctional officers with great focus.
It is with clear consciousness that, by striving to fulfil conjugal rights, the marriages couples will, from time to time, demands regular interactions even if they are put in separate cells. All these will bring about increased tensions within the cells. Therefore, these projections need to be interpreted with caution. For instance, those who got married before they were sentenced may equally demand to meet with their spouse for intimacy. What will be striking is that, equally, correctional officers who fall in love with any females or male inmates may demand to have them for intimacy with their partners. This may compromise the security control mechanisms put in place.
The possible adverse consequences are the security and safety of both prisoners and the public at large. The cases of gender-based violence in correctional facilities could increase. In addition, infights that will be necessitated by the wanting to have a partner to share intimacy with could be the order of the day. Meanwhile, prison sexual violence could be challenging to manage, especially with side effects such as depression, social anxiety, anger, and fear attributed to sexual violence in the correctional facility (Hensley, 2002). More elaborate commentary on the above notion may be that the psychological itinerary may be carried on after integrating prisoners into the community.
As already mentioned, the correctional facility will then become a place of honeymoon. When this happens, its primary purpose of rehabilitating and integrating offenders in the community may, to a large degree, be compromised due to security uncertainties. Since, without well-researched policies and training in curtailing the security repercussion brought by LGBT marriages, will be an unrealised itinerary. Finally, it is essential to research the matter before considering the phenomenon in question consciously.
*Kennedy Kaumba Mabuku writes in his capacity as a Namibian citizen. He holds a Master in policing practices (SBS) and a Master of Arts in Security and Strategic Studies (Unam).