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Namibia: Treatment of homosexuals by society and government authorities; recourse and protection available to homosexuals who have been subject to ill-treatment (2007-2010)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 10 August 2010
Citation / Document Symbol NAM103489.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Namibia: Treatment of homosexuals by society and government authorities; recourse and protection available to homosexuals who have been subject to ill-treatment (2007-2010), 10 August 2010, NAM103489.E, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Sources report that sodomy is illegal in Namibia (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6; The Namibian 2 Nov. 2009; Global Gayz n.d.; ILGA 23 Mar. 2009), and that homosexuality is discouraged (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6). The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), an organization which aims to protect the human rights of Namibians, stated in an article of The Namibian that homosexuality is still illegal (The Namibian 26 Mar. 2007; World Pulse 1 Jan. 2009). In contrast, Human Rights House Network (HRHN) reports that there is no law in Namibia that clearly states that homosexuality is illegal (22 May 2008).

The article "Gender and Sexuality: The Law Reform Landscape," which appears in the LAC's document entitled Unravelling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia, indicates that:

The current trend in Namibian law reforms is to decrease legal protections relating to sexual orientation, and in fact to specifically exclude gay and lesbian relationships from important legal provisions. (LAC 2007, 119)

For example, the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, 2003 is applicable only to those involved in opposite sex relationships (LAC 2007, 120; Assistant Professor 19 July 2010). Furthermore, the Act does not provide any protection to people in homosexual relationships, since these relationships "are not recognised by the Namibian customs and traditions or by the laws of [the] Republic" (LAC 2007, 121). In 19 July 2010 correspondence with the Research Directorate, an assistant professor of the department of Community Health Sciences from the University of Manitoba corroborated the above information, stating that:

The Combating of Domestic Violence Act 4 of 2003 explicitly applies to people in "different sex" relationships, thus excluding people encountering domestic violence within same sex relationships -- which is widespread in Namibia. (19 July 2010)

Treatment of homosexuals by society and government authorities

Sources report that homosexuals are discriminated against in Namibia (Freedom House 2008; The Namibian 2 Nov. 2009; Currier 2007, 54). GlobalGayz indicates that the "treatment of [gay people] ranges from social ostracism to physical attacks" (n.d.). Human Rights House Network reports that a spokesperson from The Rainbow Project (TRP) in Namibia at a 2007 meeting in Johannesburg stated that she is told to be careful in her town and that she faces homophobia (22 May 2008). The spokesperson also stated that hate crimes are frequent and that in 2006 TRP began documenting hate crimes towards homosexuals, providing an undated example of a case where "two gay men ... were killed" (HRHN 22 May 2010). She also reported that "correctional rape" against gays and lesbians is frequent; however, it isn't talked about (ibid.). The Assistant Professor corroborated the above information stating that:

Lesbian women who do not conform to gender-desire conventions live under threat of "correction rape -- the violent notion that lesbian women can be "fixed" (made heterosexual) through coerced sex with men. (19 July 2010)

Ashley Currier, an assistant professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies at Texas A&M University stated in correspondence with the Research Directorate that it is her understanding that "sexual minorities can file human rights abuse claims with the Office of the Ombudsman. However, it is unclear how many ordinary Namibian sexual minorities would know about this recourse" (Currier 14 July 2010). This information could not be corroborated within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on protection available to homosexuals who have been subjected to ill-treatment could not be found among the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Currier, Ashley McAllister. 14 July 2010. Assistant professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies at Texas A&M University. Correspondence.

_____. 2007. The Visibility of Sexual Minority Movement Organizations in Namibia and South Africa. Ph.D. thesis of the University of Pittsburgh sent to the Research Directorate.

Freedom House. 2008. "Namibia." Freedom in the World 2008. [Accessed 24 June 2010]

GlobalGayz. N.d. "Namibia." [Accessed June 24 2010]

Human Rights House Network (HRHN). 22 May 2008. "38 African Countries Still Criminalise Same-Sex Activity Between Adults." [Accessed 24 June 2010]

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). 23 March 2009. "Namibia." [Accessed 21 June 2010]

Legal Assistance Centre (LAC). 2007. Dianne Hubbard. "Gender and Sexuality: The Law Reform Landscape." Unravelling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia. [Accessed 24 June 2010]

Assistant Professor of the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. 19 July 2010. Correspondence.

The Namibian [Windhoek]. 2 November 2009. Nangula Shejavali. "Namibia: Political Parties Ponder Homosexuality." (AllAfrica) [Accessed 24 June 2010]

_____. 26 March 2007. Brigitte Weidlich. "Gays and Lesbians Left Out of AIDS Policy." [Accessed 24 Aug. 2010]

United States (US). 11 March 2010. Department of State. "Namibia." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009. [Accessed 24 June 2010]

World Pulse. 1 January 2009. "Legalizing Homophobia, Setting a Precedent in Africa." [Accessed 13 July 2010]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives from Behind the Mask, Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE), GlobalGayz, Minority Rights Group International (MRG), Sister Namibia, the Office of the Ombudsman in Namibia, and the Women's Leadership Centre were unsuccessful.

Internet sources, including: Afrik, AIDS Awareness Campaign, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), International Crisis Group, LGBT Asylum News, National Security for Human Rights (Namibia), The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), The Rainbow Project (TRP).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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