Namibia Supreme Court rules in favor of recognizing foreign same-sex marriages News
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Namibia Supreme Court rules in favor of recognizing foreign same-sex marriages

The Supreme Court of Namibia ruled the country’s authorities must recognize foreign same-sex marriages for immigration purposes, potentially signaling a major policy shift in a country where homosexuality is criminalized.

The decision came out of a consolidated appeal involving two foreign nationals in same-sex marriages with Namibian citizens. These cases challenged the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration’s refusal to recognize such marriages under the Immigration Control Act of 1993. The court declared that if a marriage is legally concluded in accordance with the statutory requirements for a valid marriage in a foreign jurisdiction, it should be recognized in Namibia. Accordingly, the appellants, who were legally married in South Africa and Germany, should be recognized as spouses under the Act, the court ruled.

The court also found that the Ministry’s interpretation of the Immigration Control Act to exclude a spouse in a same-sex marriage infringes upon the spouse’s right to dignity, as protected under Article 8 of the Constitution. The court’s decision upheld the rights to dignity and equality of the appellants in these cases.

A dissenting opinion argued that Namibia’s laws do not recognize same-sex relationships and that the matter should be addressed by the legislature. The dissenting judge argued that Namibia is under no obligation to recognize a marriage that contradicts its policies and laws, even if it is legal in the country where it was contracted.