In a ground-breaking decision earlier today, Namibia’s Supreme Court has recognised same-sex marriages performed abroad between Namibian citizens and foreign spouses. This ruling marks a significant milestone in a country where homosexuality remains illegal.
The Supreme Court’s decision overturns a previous ruling by the High Court, which had refused to acknowledge same-sex marriages conducted outside of Namibia.
Annette Seiler, married to German national Anita Seiler-Lilles, and Johann Potgieter, married to his South African husband, Matsobane Daniel Digashu, were the plaintiffs in the case. Their marriages were respectively solemnised in Germany and South Africa.
The court ruling stated that the Ministry’s exclusion of spouses, including the appellants, from validly conducted same-sex marriages violates the interconnected rights to dignity and equality of the appellants.
Namibia has witnessed a series of court cases pertaining to the rights of same-sex couples to marry, raise children, and immigrate. Homosexuality remains illegal in Namibia under a seldom-enforced 1927 sodomy law dating back to the country’s time under South African rule.
However, South Africa, with its progressive post-apartheid constitution, stands as the only African nation where gay marriage is legally recognised since its legalisation in 2006.
Potential Effects on Immigration
The situation concerning foreign couples who married outside of Namibia and are now seeking Work Permits or Permanent Residency remains unclear. In particular, we are unsure about the legality of one partner being able to accompany the other on the same permit.
In the coming days, we will be seeking clarity on these questions, and be sure to post updates on our news page and social media.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor