Same-sex spouses fight to make Namibia home

The country’s refusal to grant domicile to Delgado and the couple’s legal battle to obtain Namibian citizenship for their three children has resulted in five separate legal cases lodged over the past year and a half.

07 June 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

The Delgado-Lühl family are fighting tooth and nail to avoid being forced into exile and have asked the Supreme Court to help by expediting an appeal hearing that could otherwise take years to be heard.

Last week, Guillermo Delgado, Namibian Phillip Lühl’s husband, lodged an application to the Supreme Court asking for an expedited hearing on his appeal against the rejection of his residence status by immigration authorities.

Namibia’s refusal to grant domicile to Delgado and the couple’s legal battle to obtain Namibian citizenship for their three children has resulted in five separate legal cases lodged over the past year and a half. Their exhaustive turns in the highest courts of Namibia, in a struggle to stay in the country as a family, have highlighted the unique legal barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) persons and families in Namibia and attracted international scrutiny.

With Delgado’s current work permit lapsing at the end of this month and with no guarantee of a renewal, they stressed that his ability to remain in Namibia and to continue working to support his family hinges on a final decision on his domicile status. That decision now lies with the Supreme Court.

Tough choice

“We as a family have a decision to make. Do we stay in Namibia, which has been our home since 2011, but where we are not welcome and where we will likely face continued harassment and discrimination on the basis of our sexual orientation?” Delgado’s affidavit read.

The second choice is to “surrender and allow the respondents [the home affairs ministry] to force us as a family, including Phillip, a Namibian citizen, and our children, Namibian citizens by descent, out of the country and effectively into exile”.

“I am at the mercy of the ministry of home affairs, which has already demonstrated its hostility towards me and my family,” he said.

He warned that leaving would play into the hands of immigration authorities and have a detrimental impact on his and his children’s legal cases.

“I acknowledge that the ability to leave places us in a privileged position, when one considers how many people are not able to leave to escape discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

The Supreme Court appeal was filed in March after High Court Judge Thomas Masuku dismissed Delgado’s application for the court to set aside the decision by government to decline his application for domicile or permanent residence in Namibia.

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