Namibia: Step up responses to discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTQ communities

LGBTQ communities in Namibia and those defending their rights remain targeted, suffering various forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and violence. It is time for the Namibian government to take action and decriminalise same-sex sexual relations, revise laws discriminating against, and take measures to address violence in, LGBT communities.


At the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR together with The Intersectional Network of Namibia- a network of independent and nonpartisan national LGBT and Women’s rights organisations – delivered a joint statement during the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Namibia. The statement welcomed the 19 recommendations received in relation to LGBTQ communities, including calling for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual relations, revision of laws discriminating against LGBT communities, and measures to address violence. Recommendations which echo calls from local activists and the LGBTQ community.

The statement highlights that the calls on the Namibian Government are clear, and the path has been laid out: 

  • Amend and expand the definition of a domestic relationship in the Combating of Domestic Violence Act 4 of 2003 to include LGBT couples.
  • Repeal the crime of sodomy as an unnatural sexual offence within the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, and amend associated provisions in the Sexual Offences Act and the Sodomy Act
  • Amend the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 to provide that a crime motivated by hatred and prejudice towards LGBT persons is treated as aggravated for sentencing purposes.

  • Enact specific legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, thereby enabling LGBT persons to enjoy their Constitutional rights 

‘We are concerned by the Namibian Government’s comments during the review that ‘homosexuality is not illegal’ and that it ‘does not condone sanction or persecution of the LGBTIQ community’, especially in the current context where ‘sodomy provisions legitimise societal and State sponsored discrimination against LGBTQ persons even when they are not enforced.’ The Government needs to go much further, it must protect its LGBTIQ communities, and prohibit discrimintaion and violence, including in domestic violence contexts’, said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy

‘We welcome the 2020 report of the Law Reform and Development Commission and call on the Namibian Government to take measures to implement its recommendations on the abolishment of common law offences of ‘sodemy and unnatural sexual offences’, and to progress the  accompanying draft bill that would repeal these common law provisions.’ said Linda Baumann of the Namibia Diverse Women’s Association.

‘It’s time for Namibia to take this important step forward and acknowledge the right to universal enjoyment of human rights- that all human beings, of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of human rights’ added McEvoy.


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