Last edited: February 13, 2005

Namibians March to Defend Gay, Other Minority Rights

Reuters, April 28, 2001

WINDHOEK—Hundreds of Namibians marched through their capital on Saturday in protest against President Sam Nujuma’s verbal attacks on gays and lesbians.

Speaker after speaker urged President Sam Nujoma’s government to stop threatening the rights of minorities. Twenty civil groups took part in the protest, which was organized by the Southern African Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRINGON).

"The independence of the judiciary and the media is under threat, people’s rights are threatened with the go-ahead being given by the head of state," SAHRINGON’s Pauline Dembers said.

"’s up to us to rescue the situation."

Nujoma has frequently described gays and lesbians as "unnatural" and threatened to arrest and deport them.

He has also attacked white Namibians, accusing them of not having the country’s interests at heart.

"We thought 11 years after independence we would be marching for development of our country. But today we are marching for our survival," said Clement Daniels, Director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC).

Head of Sister Namibia, a women’s organization defending the rights of lesbians, said it was unfortunate that Namibia’s leaders were using sexual orientation to divide the country.

"Equality cannot be achieved in Namibia without sexual rights being respected," she said.

Last week the Namibian government denied that there was any persecution of minorities in the country.

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