Last edited: February 13, 2005

Gay Rights Challenge to Nujoma

Daily Dispatch, March 22, 2001

WINDHOEK—A Namibian gay rights coalition challenged President Sam Nujoma yesterday to state under which laws gays and lesbians could be prosecuted, after remarks against homosexuals he made earlier this week.

"Nowhere does our constitution state that gay and lesbian people are not members of the human family and therefore do not enjoy the same rights as all other citizens," said a spokesperson for the Rainbow Project coalition, Ian Swartz.

"We would also like to know whether the president has made arrangements with the prison authorities to accommodate some 10 percent of the population."

Swartz demanded to know whether Namibia had made deals with other countries for the deportation of its homosexual population.

Nujoma told university students earlier this week the constitution did not allow for homosexual practices and called on police to arrest, imprison and deport gays.

"The Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality, lesbianism here. Police are ordered to arrest you, and deport you and imprison you," Nujoma said at the University of Namibia.

Swartz responded that Namibia’s constitution forbade any discrimination based on individual differences and it did not exclude the rights of sexual minorities.

The South West Africa People’s Organisation claims homosexual practices result from foreign influences.

But those contesting this point out nearly all indigenous languages, including Oshiwambo spoken by most Swapo supporters, have a word for homosexuals.

Over the past few years, Swapo’s conservative culture has repeatedly been at odds with the civil rights enshrined in the constitution.

Prime Minister Hage Geingob was forced to explain to parliament last year that Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo’s call to police recruits to "eliminate" gays and lesbians from Namibia was made in Ekandjo’s private capacity.


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