UN condemns discrimination against LGBT
The UN in a visit organized by the Centre for Civil and Political Rights, a Geneva-based NGO, together with the Legal Assistance Centre in a press briefing earlier this week called on Namibia to abolish the common law crime of sodomy and include same-sex relationships in the existing Combating of Domestic Violence Act.
The UN report, presented by Sarah Cleveland, an independent expert on human rights issues, alleges that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Namibia face discrimination, harassment and violence, including cases of ‘corrective rape’ against lesbians.
The Namibian constitution is silent on homosexuality, although it is explicit on sodomy, which is illegal and punishable with prison time
“Namibia falls back on the fact that legalizing same sex marriage would be political controversial, as the country has deep rooted discourses of tradition, customs and religious believes that are fundamentally against same sex relationships,” she added.
The conclusions from the report were sourced from consultations from different parties including with the police, civil society, human rights activists,government officials, and the Ministry of Justice.
Cleveland explains Namibia does not ‘explicitly’ prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as law enforcement informed her that no persons have been persecuted for same sex relationships in the country.
She however called on government to “adopt legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, including the Labour Act (Act No. 11 of 2007), and adopt hate crime legislation punishing homophobic and trans phobic violence, and vigorously enforce it.” She added that a lack of recognition to such humans rights are risky in country with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate as it may limit access to sexual health education and contraception options for persons in same sex relationships.
Cleveland also emphasized that the Office of the Ombudsman is insufficiently resourced, adding that the Office of the Ombudsman should be granted the power to recruit its own staff to be fully compliant with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights as it is currently under staffed with little resources.
Government is urged further to guard against monitoring, surveillance and interception of private communication, saying the practice is illegal and a violation of the right to privacy. Torture and ill-treatment report included violations such as torture and ill-treatment in police cells and detention facilities, the use of excessive force against suspects, and reports that members of the police force regularly detain and rape sex workers.
The report states that sex workers should have the right to report on cases of rape and sexual harassment without facing persecution themselves.
Meanwhile, a lack of investigation of cases of torture to which persons arrested after the 1999 secession attempt in the former Caprivi region was also highlighted. The government is granted until March 2017 to implement some of the laws, recommendations, and public awareness campaigns set by the International Covenant of Civil and Political rights.