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Namibia Supreme Court grants partial victory to gay couple seeking permanent residency

Men’s attorney says many hurdles remain

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(Bigstock photo)

A married same-sex couple who is seeking permanent residency in Namibia received a partial victory from the country’s Supreme Court last week

The Supreme Court on March 7 presided over a permanent residency case involving Guillermo Delgado and the Home Affairs Ministry.

Delgado, a gay man from Mexico who married Namibian national Phillip Lühl eight years ago in South Africa, approached the Supreme Court last year after Namibia’s immigration officials ruled that their South African marriage did not qualify Delgado for residency in Namibia since the country does not recognize same-sex marriages.

The Home Affairs Ministry also did not consider the fact that Delgado had lived in the country for more than 10 years.

Although the Supreme Court ruled the government had discriminated against their residency application because one of the spouses is foreign-born and ordered the Home Affairs Ministry to review Delgado’s request for residency, his attorney Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile said it was just a lost cause that would eventually bring them back to the Supreme Court.

“Essentially by saying go back to Home Affairs you have to start afresh and we have outlined to the court how Home Affairs has been hostile towards Guillermo, Phillip and the entire family so going back to Home Affairs for what? We know they are going to reject the application except now they are going to pretend to have thought about it a little bit longer then you would have to institute a review application or something and eventually come to the Supreme Court it’s just a waste of time, a waste of money and a waste of energy to be quite frank.

We will just have to study the judgment but this is not what we wanted. The good part is that they recognized that Home Affairs really mistreated Guillermo and ordered punitive cost order like you would have heard they said cost on an attorney client scale so you appreciate that Home Affairs did something wrong but you are sending the person back to Home Affairs it makes no sense to me,” said Uno.

Delgado said he and Lühl they were going to do as the Supreme Court recommended, but nevertheless described it was a daunting task since he was going back to the same process that denied him the residency,

“I feel a little bit disappointed, the application had already been made. I made an application and they rejected it so they (the Supreme Court) are basically telling me I should apply again so it’s unclear to me why I should apply again, I suppose so that they can reject it again and then we are back to square one but there should be some explanation for the judgement,” said Delgado. “So, for now I will just reapply for my domicile and see how it goes.”

Namibia Women’s Diverse Association, a non-profit organization that works with LGBTQ Namibians, said although the Supreme Court judgment was non-fluid per se, it was a step towards ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As we celebrate, we are cognizant that the journey to full recognition equality and equity shall be a struggle we are all prepared to advocate for, with no compromise of anyone’s rights,” said the Namibia Women’s Diverse Association in a statement.

A Namibian woman and her German partner, Elisabeth Frank, in 2001 sued to have their relationship recognized so that Frank could reside in Namibia.

The Immigration Board granted the residence permit, and the government appealed to the Supreme Court. The court ruled Frank should receive a permanent residence permit, which she received a year later, but it did not rule in favor of same-sex relationships.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not banned in Namibia, and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Section 299 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 2004 includes references to sodomy or attempted sodomy charges.

Schedule 1 groups sodomy together with a list of other crimes for which the police are authorized to make an arrest without a warrant or to use of deadly force in the course of that arrest. Public displays of affection between two men can be considered “immoral” behavior, which is punishable under the Combating of Immoral Practices Act of 1980.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Africa

Burkina Faso moves to criminalize homosexuality

Justice Minister Edasso Bayala made announcement on July 10

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Burkina Faso flag (Photo by rarrarorro/Bigstock)

Burkina Faso has become the latest African country to move to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

Justice Minister Edasso Bayala on July 10 after a Cabinet meeting said same-sex sexual acts and similar practices would now be prohibited and seen as a violation of the law.

Unlike other countries where lawmakers have to introduce and pass bills, this scenario will likely not be the case in Burkina Faso because the country is currently under military role. Captain Ibrahim Traorè in 2022 led a coup that removed President Roch Kaboré and Prime Minister Lassina Zerbo.

Although some have signaled there still needs to be a parliamentary vote, there will be “legal” ramifications for those who are found to be LGBTQ or advocating for the community.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations or identifying as LGBTQ were regarded as legal in Burkina Faso before the July 10 announcement. Same-sex marriages were — and remain — illegal.

Members of the Transitional Legislative Assembly last September met to discuss regional issues that included the prohibition of and penalization of homosexuality and restricting the creation of groups that advocate on behalf of sexual minorities. The TLA incorporated the suggestions into a report and submitted it to Burkina Faso’s leadership.

Some of the country’s LGBTQ groups and human rights organizations have called upon the current leadership to respect and acknowledge other genders.

“We are all equal in dignity and rights,” said the National Consultive Commission on Human Rights, which is known by acronym CNDH (Commission Nationale des Droits Humains in French), in a statement. “CNDH is fighting against all forms of discrimination based on race gender, religion or social origin.”

“In Burkina Faso, thousands of people suffer from prejudice and injustice every day,” added CNDH. “We must take action. Discrimination weakens our society and divides our communities. Every individual deserves to live without fear of being judged or excluded.”

The organization further stressed “every action counts. Every voice matters.”

“Together we can change mindsets,” it said. “We must educate, raise awareness and encourage respect for diversity.”

CNDH President Gonta Alida Henriette said the government’s decision “would be the greatest violation of human rights in Burkina Faso and would condemn hundreds of thousands of LGBT+ people in Burkina Faso.” Alice Nkom, an African human rights activist, echoed this sentiment.

“Why politicize a privacy matter among consenting adults while making it a crucial topic for Africa? I answer you: Stop spying on your neighbor for the wrong reasons,” said Nkom. “Mind your own life and, if you care about your neighbor, worry about their health, if water is coming out of the tap, if there is electricity in the house, or food to feed their children.”

“Why are they prioritizing the issue of saying no to homosexuality in Africa instead of no wars or armed conflict in Africa, no poverty in Africa, no hunger in Africa, no misery in Africa?,” asked Nkom. “We should stop being distracted by topics that take away nothing and add nothing to our lives.”

Other activists say the proposal would expose the LGBTQ community and its allies to imprisonment and other punishments. They say the repercussions would go beyond legal implications; making human rights and sexual minority activists more vulnerable to criminal action, persecution, and arbitrary arrests. 

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Africa

Cameroon president’s daughter comes out

Brenda Biya acknowledges relationship with Brazilian model

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Brenda Biya (Photo via Instagram)

The daughter of Cameroonian President Paul Biya has come out as a lesbian.

Brenda Biya, 26, on June 30 posted to her Instagram page a picture of her kissing Brazilian model Layyons Valença.

“I’m crazy about you and I want the world to know,” said Brenda Biya.

Her father has been Cameroon’s president since 1982.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in the Central African country that borders Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Chad. The State Department’s 2023 human rights report notes harassment, discrimination, violence, and arbitrary arrests of LGBTQ people are commonplace in the country.

Brenda Biya is a musician who does not live in Cameroon.

The BBC reported she told Le Parisien, a French newspaper, in an exclusive interview published on Tuesday that she and Valença have been together for eight months. The women have also traveled to Cameroon together three times, but Brenda Biya did not tell her family they were in a relationship.

Brenda Biya said she did not tell her family that she planned to come out, and they were upset when she did. Brenda Biya told Le Parisien that her mother, Cameroonian first lady Chantale Biya, asked her to delete her Instagram post.

The Washington Blade on Thursday did not see the picture of Brenda Biya and Valença on her Instagram account.

“Coming out is an opportunity to send a strong message,” Brenda Biya told Le Parisien.

Brenda Biya described Cameroon’s criminalization law as “unfair, and I hope that my story will change it.”

Activists applauded Brenda Biya for coming out. The BBC reported the DDHP Movement, which supports Cameroon’s anti-LGBTQ laws, filed a complaint against her with the country’s public prosecutor.

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Africa

Ugandan activists again appeal ruling that upheld Anti-Homosexuality Act

Country’s Constitutional Court in April refused to ‘nullify’ law

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(Image by rarrarorro/Bigstock)

A group of LGBTQ activists in Uganda on Thursday once again appealed a ruling that upheld the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

President Yoweri Museveni in May 2023 signed the law, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The U.S. subsequently imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials and removed the country from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S. The World Bank Group also announced the suspension of new loans to Uganda.

The Ugandan Constitutional Court on April 3 refused to “nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act in its totality.” Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha and Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesara are among the activists who appealed the ruling to the country’s Court of Appeal on April 16.

A picture that Mugisha posted to his X account on Thursday notes he, along with Nabagesara, are two of the 22 activists who filed the latest appeal with the Supreme Court, which is the country’s highest court.

“Today, we have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Uganda to overturn the Constitutional Court decision that upheld the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Law,” said Mugisha.

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