Delgado-Lühl citizenship judgement postponed

05 August 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH





WINDHOEK



The much anticipated judgement in a citizenship case of the two-year old son of Phillip Lühl and Guillermo Delgado has been postponed to 13 October due to Covid-19 complications.

The Namibia Equal Rights Movement (NERM), which advocates for the equal rights of all Namibians including LGBTQ families and individuals, was dismayed with the postponement.

“After two years of litigation … we are deeply disappointed in the further delay, as this impacts the family and continues to leave their children de facto stateless. We will continue to fight for justice,” the group stated.

The ruling will determine whether the home affairs ministry should be compelled to grant Namibian citizenship by descent to Yona Delgado-Lühl, who was born in March 2019 via surrogacy to his parents.

It will also impact whether his infant sisters, Paula and Maya, will be granted citizenship.

The toddler has effectively been stateless for more than two years. The case has raised questions over what equal rights groups have labeled ‘state-sanctioned homophobia’.



Problematic

All three children are in possession of authentic South African birth certificates that identify Lühl and Delgado as their sole and legal parents, in addition to South African High Court orders legitimising their surrogacy arrangements and the parentage of the men.

Before the postponement was announced, NERM warned that the case highlights problematic government attitudes towards LGBTQ Namibians and their families, who are put through the ringer in ways that heterosexual Namibians who have had children abroad via adoption, surrogacy or in-vitro treatments have not had to endure.

“In a born-free Namibia, children have now become collateral to the government’s state-sanctioned homophobic policies. It should be deeply concerning to all Namibians that the home affairs ministry is creating stateless children solely because of their parents being in a same-sex relationship. Tax payer funds used to separate families and harm children is not the born-free Namibia we fought for.”

The organisation warned that if the court declines to interfere on behalf of the Delgado-Lühl family, this would create a dangerous constitutional precedent, and would impact any Namibian who has a child abroad that is not biologically related, either via surrogacy, in-vitro treatment or adoption.

Over the past months, many legal experts have also noted that apart from the issue of parentage, courts should take into account the rights of the children, and prioritise their well-being and safety.