Namibian Call to "Eliminate" Gays
October 2, 2000
In another rhetorical outburstthis time to graduating copsa top
official denies gays and lesbians have constitutional rights and encourages persecution.
Namibian Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo on September 29 called on 700 new
graduates of the police academy to "eliminate" gays and lesbians. Such rhetoric
has resurfaced periodically in Namibia beginning with President Sam Nujoma in December
1996 (see PlanetOut News of December 18, 1996), including Ekandjos own memorable
call for anti-gay legislation on the floor of the National Assembly in November 1998.
However discrimination based on sexual orientation is explicitly prohibited in
Namibias Labor Code, the rights of individual gays and lesbians are considered to be
protected along with others under the national constitution, there is no sodomy law, and
the courts have upheld immigration rights for binational same-gender couples; until 1996,
homosexuality was never an issue. The gay and lesbian group The Rainbow Project called on
the government to denounce Ekandjos remarks.
Ekandjos remarks at the police center in Ondangwa were first reported October 1
by the state-controlled Namibian Broadcasting Corporation television news. He said that
the "constitution does not guarantee rights for gays and lesbians," and that
"We must make sure we eliminate them from the face of Namibia," lumping
homosexual acts with all other "unnatural acts, including murder." A murky but
threatening quote had him saying, "Even if gays and lesbians had a gay dog they
should murder it."
The Rainbow Project responded that gays and lesbians are protected by the
constitutions statement that, "inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is indispensable for freedom, justice and
peace," and said the government should "publicly reject" Ekandjos
In November 1998 in the midst of a budget discussion, Ekandjo gave an impassioned
speech in the National Assembly seeking to "curb the spread of homosexuality in
society" by imposing "heavy penalties" on gays and lesbiansaccording to one source, those penalties to include castration. He said, "It is my
considered opinion that the so-called gay rights can never qualify as human rights. They
are wrongly claimed because it is inimical to true Namibian culture, African culture and
religion. They should be classified as human wrongs which rank as a sin against society
and God. ... Gays and lesbians rights can never qualify to be fundamental
rights, because if a male dog knows its right partner as a female dog, how can a human
being fail to notice the difference? If a female pig knows its right partner as a male
pig, how can a human being fail to notice the difference?"
Of course both African tribal culture and myriad animal species have been found to
feature homosexuality. But Ekandjo attributes homosexuality entirely to Western
influences, and said, "We take everything [from Western culture] lock, stock and
barrel without carefully analyzing what is good and what is harmful to us. Today it is
homosexuality, tomorrow the right to walk naked, the day after it will be the right to
abuse drugs. At the end the so-called rights will lead to our own extinction."
Ekandjo has a tendency to speak out of turn and shows a certain fascist bent; just last
month he announced he would withdraw the work permits of any foreign judges who made
rulings not in line with government policy, but was forced to back down and apologize.
Ekandjos 1998 oration was quickly followed by Prime Minister Hage Geingobs
statement that "There is no chance that such a law is being planned" by the
But Ekandjo is not alone in his views and the law is not always the issue. In July of
this year, the gay-supportive Namibian civil rights group and publication Sister Namibia
saw its offices firebombed just a week after President Nujoma declared that gays and
lesbians are "ungodly," "unAfrican" and "destroying the
Nujomas original public anti-gay remarks in 1996 followed about two years of
similar rhetoric by Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe.
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