Dozens of people cheer and dance as they take part in the Namibian Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) community pride Parade in the streets of the Namibian Capitol on July 29, 2017 in Windhoek.  Even though there have been marches and protests against discrimination against the LGBT community in the past years, this is the first time that the community held such a parade along the capital's main street, Independence Avenue, to celebrate their identity and rights. / AFP PHOTO / Hildegard Titus        © HILDEGARD TITUS/AFP via Getty Images

Namibia: Decision to overturn “sodomy” laws is a victory for human rights 

21 June 2024 

Responding to the decision by the Namibia High Court to overturn the country’s colonial-era “sodomy” and “unnatural offences” laws which had criminalized same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Khanyo Farise, said: 

“The Namibia High Court decision to overturn these laws and decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct is a victory for love, for equality and for human rights. 

“This ruling is a step toward ending discrimination in equal access to health care and other social services and ensuring that all people in Namibia can choose their partners without fear of reprisals and live their lives in dignity. 

The Namibia High Court decision to overturn these laws and decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct is a victory for love, for equality and for human rights. 

Khanyo Farise, Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa

“The verdict also aligns Namibia’s laws with its constitution, the African Charter and international human rights law, all of which prohibit any form of discrimination. Namibia now joins the many Southern African countries which have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual conduct. 

“Nevertheless, violence and discriminatory legislation followed a court ruling last year concerning the rights of LGBTI persons in Namibia. Amnesty International also documented alarming rhetoric in recent weeks threatening the rights of LGBTI persons. The authorities must ensure the safety of LGBTI persons in Namibia and hold accountable anyone who violates their rights.” 


In June 2022, Namibian LGBTI activist Friedel Dausab filed the case challenging the constitutionality of the country’s laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct and petitioning the court to nullify all previous convictions under them. 

Namibia has experienced a fierce anti-LGBTI backlash in the past year, primarily driven by faith and religious leaders, following a May 2023 Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex unions performed abroad. 

Namibia’s parliament responded by passing two bills restricting the right to marriage equality for LGBTI people in June 2023. The bills seek to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminate against trans people and criminalize any support, celebration or promotion of same-sex unions with up to six years in jail and hefty fines. 

Further, reports from Namibian activists suggest police have not permitted the same freedom of assembly for LGBTI groups as for religious gatherings. Amnesty International has also received distressing accounts of violent cyber-attacks and a wave in online harassment against LGBTI people, as well as frequent targeting and scapegoating by politicians before November 2024 elections. 

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