In a groundbreaking ruling, Namibia's Supreme Court has recognized same-sex marriages conducted abroad between Namibian citizens and foreign spouses.
This decision overturns the previous ruling made by the High Court last year, which had refused to acknowledge same-sex marriages that took place outside the country.
The case arose when two Namibian nationals challenged the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration after their same-sex foreign spouses, whom they had married abroad, were denied permits to reside in Namibia.
The Supreme Court ruled that the ministry's exclusion of these spouses, including the appellants, from validly concluded same-sex marriages, violated their rights to dignity and equality.
Annette Seiler, who is married to German national Anita Seiler-Lilles, and Namibian citizen Johann Potgieter, who is married to his South African husband, Matsobane Daniel Digashu, brought forward the case. Their respective marriages were conducted in Germany and South Africa.
Namibia has witnessed several court cases regarding the rights of same-sex couples to marry, start families, and immigrate.
It is important to note that homosexuality remains illegal in Namibia under a seldom-enforced sodomy law from 1927, which dates back to its period under South African rule. South Africa, on the other hand, stands as the sole African nation that permits gay marriage, legalizing it in 2006 under its liberal post-apartheid constitution.
Earlier this year, the same Supreme Court overturned a lower court's decision to grant citizenship to a four-year-old son of a gay couple. The child was born through surrogacy in neighboring South Africa.