Govt seeks DNA proof of twins’ paternity

Government is in a tussle with same-sex parents of twin babies who are trapped in South Africa, with Namibian authorities seeking biological proof of paternity.

23 March 2021 | Ministries

JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

Home affairs minister Frans Kapofi yesterday said his ministry being asked to approve citizenship of babies who have same-sex biological parents is a “new phenomenon”.

The only way to resolve the matter, he said, is by providing DNA proof that twin babies currently stuck in South Africa are biologically of Namibian descent.

The minister was reacting to a Namibian father of three who has brought an urgent appeal to the Windhoek High Court after immigration authorities banned his newborn twin daughters from coming to Namibia with him after their birth this month in South Africa.

The twins, Maya and Paula Delgado Lühl, were born via surrogacy to Namibian citizen Phillip Lühl and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado Castañeda, who have been living in Namibia since 2009.

The couple have a two-year-old son who stayed behind with Castañeda in Namibia while Lühl attended the birth.

“The situation of men jointly donating sperm to make babies is a new phenomenon to us. Our concern is not that the parents are gay. That’s the least of our concerns,” Kapofi said yesterday.

“So, because of these complications, we need proof that these babies are biologically of Namibian descent. Otherwise, what if they actually have no biological relations to Namibia? If we rely on the mere word of mouth, how many more cases of similar nature would we handle if this one is simply approved without proof?” he asked.

‘Stateless and homeless’

The ministry’s refusal to issue the twins the necessary travel papers has effectively rendered them “stateless and homeless”, court documents read.

Lühl’s affidavit underlines that home affairs’ decision to ban their travel back home with him is an attempt to “forcibly separate me from my children, thereby leaving them uncared for, abandoned and stateless. Nothing could be further from the best interests of the children”.

While the babies’ birth certificates identify Lühl as their legal parent, they are not South African citizens and in order to be able to travel home, they need either a passport or an emergency travel document. Usually, children assume the nationality of their parents, but in this case, Namibian authorities refuse to do so.

“We have the right to come home,” Lühl said in court documents.

End discrimination

In a video posted and shared over the weekend, he said:

“As we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, we should remember that for many members of the LGBTQ community, the words ‘freedom and equality’ still ring quite hollow. And we have a minister of home affairs who is essentially closing the door of the Namibian house to two baby girls who are not even one week old today.”

He appealed for support “to end this discrimination and to allow Paula and Maya to come back home”.

The Namibian Equal Rights Movement has called on allies to join a march on 25 March before the urgent application will be heard in Windhoek.

Lühl’s legal team will argue that he and his husband have the right to a family. And, while the home affairs ministry will insist that marriage can only be possible between a man and a wife, this heterosexual male-female link “cannot be extended to the concept and notion of family”.

Lühl will be represented by Unomwinjo Katjipuka-Sibolile from Nixon Marcus Public Law Office, while the home affairs minister is represented by government lawyer Jabulani Ncube.

The case will be heard on Thursday at 09:00 by High Court judge Thomas Masuku.

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