Civil society organizations as well as human rights defenders have condemned a statement issued by the Swapo Youth League (SPYL) which they described as homophobic.
This comes after SPYL Secretary Ephraim Nikongo issued a statement last week expressing parliamentarians’ disappointment with issues related to homosexuality being discussed rather than “more important suggestions”.
He demanded parliamentarians, especially those belonging to the SWAPO party, to stop wasting time discussing rights and the possibility of legalizing homosexuality in Namibia because it is not important. However, homosexuality is actually not illegal in Namibia.
The controversy over homosexuality was sparked by reports that the government would consider repealing common law offenses of sodomy and so-called unnatural sexual offences, which are among a body of apartheid legislation that is still part of the country’s laws.
“We would like to express our dissatisfaction with the prioritization of motions or bills in the National Assembly. Nykongo said SPYL is tired of discussing homosexuals in August House casting a shadow over urgent matters… Homosexuality is a satanic practice, but it is satanic and should not be legalized them in Namibia.
Civil society organizations including the Out-Right Namibia Trust, the Voice of Hope Trust, Mr. Jay’s Office of Namibia, and the Institute for Public Policy Research, among others, have expressed their displeasure with Nykongo’s words saying that they reinforce a culture of stigmatization and prevailing discrimination against the lesbian, gay and bisexual community. and transgender, gay, bisexual and asexual (LGBTQIA).
The organizations’ statement said Nikongo’s words amounted to blatant dehumanization and an insult to the LGBTQIA community.
“It is disappointing to see a national youth organization use such inflammatory language and shirk its responsibility to provide Namibian youth with informed positions on human rights discourse,” the statement read.
They called for an end to all forms of hate speech, harassment and discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA community and further requested SPYL to show leadership in ending discrimination that undermines the full recognition and realization of human rights.
“Furthermore, we call on national parties and institutions to refrain from violating the rights of Namibian citizens on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” the statement said.
The organizations added that homosexuality has never been illegal and has not been criminalized in Namibia and that the practice of “unnatural sexual offenses” including the General Sodomy Act is currently the legislative framework criminalizing consent for same-sex adults.
They said this indicates that these provisions constitute constitutional violations of the rights of LGBT people.
The statement was signed by 13 civil society organizations.