Civil society organisations are enraged because amendments to the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, which were tabled in parliament last week, do not include same-sex couples.
Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) gender coordinator Dianne Hubbard yesterday said this is a “shocking” violation of the constitutional promise of equality before the law.
“Simply making the protection order procedure available to same-sex couples should not be controversial,” Hubbard said on Twitter.
The LAC in a fact sheet published last year stated that failing to protect people in same-sex relationships could violate their constitutional right to dignity and protection against cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in Article 8 or their right to equality before the law in Article 10.
“Even though the Supreme Court of Namibia ruled in the 2001 Frank case that the existence of a same-sex relationship was irrelevant to an application for permanent residency, the court explicitly stated ‘nothing in this judgement justifies discrimination against homosexuals as individuals, or deprive them of the protection of other provisions of the Namibian Constitution’,” the fact sheet reads.
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) yesterday, while referring to the LAC’s fact sheet said regardless of the attitudes of members of parliament about same-sex relationships all citizens should be protected by their human rights.
“Surely simply making the protection order procedure available to such couples should not be controversial. This LAC fact sheet explains the issue. Human rights should apply to all,” the IPPR stated.
Human rights activist Linda Baumann yesterday said it hurts her that the recognition of equality and equity of her diversity remains at the mercy of those who choose not to understand the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) communities in Namibia.
“I am a woman identifying as a lesbian. I am also a mother, and until this day the Domestic Violence Act and bill under discussion refuses to acknowledge my domestic relationship(s) that requires equal protection by all Cabinet members. The exclusion of people identifying as LGBTQ+ remains a concern,” she said.
Baumann wanted to know what it would take to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community is recognised as human beings in Namibia.
Meanwhile, Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA) on Twitter said the current form of the amendment bill should advance the attainment of human rights for all.
“Legislative protection is needed by LGBTQ+ persons in their domestic and general experiences,” the NDWA stated.
Minister of justice Yvonne Dausab in the National Assembly last week, while tabling the amendment, said the amendment would look at the definition of “domestic violence offences” in the first schedule.
The amendment would further look at the Combating of Domestic Violence Act to extend the scope of domestic relationships to the primary caretaker of a child and clarify that a domestic relationship between a child and a parent continues even after the child has attained the age of 18 years.
It would also clarify provisions pertaining to custody and access in protection orders to strengthen the safeguards for children who may be affected by domestic violence, as well as to provide that temporary maintenance orders included in protection orders be treated in the same way as maintenance orders under the Maintenance Act of 2003.
She said it would provide for the suspension of the firearm licence of a person involved in committing an act of domestic violence, as well as clarifying that protection orders and criminal charges can be pursued simultaneously.