Image via: Change.org / NERSA
Image via: Change.org / NERSA
Namibian citizen Phillip Luhl and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado were dealt another blow on Monday, 19 April 2021, when Nambia’s High Court ruled against them. The couple is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over the citizenship of their twin daughters that were born in South Africa via a surrogate pregnancy.
Luhl and the twins are still in South Africa following their birth in March, while Delgado is in Namibia. The twins were refused the documents that are necessary for them to enter the country, as the Namibian government insists that they are not citizens and want Luhl to prove a genetic link to the children.
Prior to this matter, Luhl and Delgado were battling the government over the citizenship of their other child, a two-year-old boy.
On Monday, 19 April, the fathers appealed to Judge Thomas Masuku to compel Frans Kapofi, the Namibian Home Affairs Minister, to issue the documents that would allow the twins to enter the country.
Masuku, however, refused, saying that such an order would be “judicial overreach”, according to the family’s lawyer Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile.
The urgent application first appeared before Masuku at the Windhoek High Court three weeks ago on Thursday, 25 March.
“It’s an unexpected judgement and, on a personal level, quite a big blow to us,” said Luhl to Reuters. He added that the ruling was evidence of resistance to equal rights in the country, whose legal system does not recognise same-sex marriages.
Namibia also criminalises sexual relations between men but this law is seldom enforced.
“These people want us to give their children Namibian documents – citizenship by descent. We have a problem with that because we need to know that indeed these children have Namibian DNA,” Kapofi told The Namibian newspaper in March.
Although surrogacy in South Africa requires a genetic link, Luhl and Delgado argue that requiring a genetic link in order to obtain citizenship is discriminatory because they are recognised as legal parents by the twins’ South African birth certificates.
The Namibian Equal Rights Movement (NERM) was formed in response to the government’s actions. The movement launched a petition to bring the twins home and called out the government for its hypocrisy and promised to hold it accountable, saying “there is no freedom if there is no equality.”
The plight of the fathers also hinted that a diplomatic dispute could arise between Namibia and South Africa after Darren Bergman, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, described the country’s laws as “homophobic.” He also called on the South African government to intervene via diplomatic channels to stop the “discrimination” in March 2021
“Let’s be very clear, we’ll not stop fighting for what’s right” said NERSA in a tweet after Masuku’s ruling.
“We’ll not stop our pursuit of equality and justice for ALL Namibians regardless of who they love. To our communities and allies, please stay with us in this fight. Only together, can we push this country forward.”