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Yona judgement a leap for children’s rights & LGBTQ+

Yona judgement a leap for children’s rights & LGBTQ+

Zorena Jantze

IN a historic judgement and moment for the LGBTQ+ community, the Windhoek High Court today ruled in favour of the Constitutional promise of equality after Yona Delgado-Lühl, the son of married same-sex couple Phillip Lühl and Guillermo Delgado-Lühl, was declared a Namibian citizens by descent.

The High Court ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security to issue a certificate of citizenship in 30 days.

The court also dismissed the Home Affairs ministry’s counter application in which it requested Namibian-born Phillip and his husband, a Mexican, to provide paternity results to prove that the Phillip is the biological father to Yona before citizenship can be granted.

Yona judgement children rights LGBTQ+ Windhoek High Court Constitutional Yona Delgado-Lühl same-sex couple Phillip Lühl Guillermo Delgado-Lühl Namibian citizens
A VICTORY: Photo: Tuva Wolf

Commenting on the judgement, Phillip said that this is not only a giant leap for their family, but children’s rights and the LGBTQ+ community.

He explained that their two-years and seven months old son was born via surrogacy in South Africa and has been stateless since he was born in March 2019.

The couple has been dealing with the matter legally since their son was born.

“When we first applied for a citizenship for Yona, workers at the ministry of home affairs questioned us and queried how two men can be labelled as parents on the birth certificate. Although most heterosexual Namibians who have children overseas and return to Namibia are not required to give paternity tests to have their children declared as citizens, we were asked to prove our paternity via DNA tests. While each case is different and has its own merits, I believe this judgment sets a precedence that shows society that queer families are families too. The message is important and fights for a cause of its own and is far removed from gay marriage and sexual reproductive rights,” Philip said.

Omar van Reenan from the Equal Rights Namibia movement echoed Phillip’s sentiments and stated that the verdict does not only impact the LGBTQ+ community, but also the rights of children and other heterosexual couples who may in future wish to adopt or have their children through surrogacy.

“All heterosexual or queer people wishing to have children via surrogacy or adopt abroad will not be mandated to have DNA tests to prove biological linkages. The constitution offers citizenship via descent to children and this court case has set the precedence. Currently, Namibia does not have the legal channels couples can turn to when they wish to have a child via surrogacy so the case also elevates the rights of those with fertility issues who may wish to have children outside the country,” van Reenan said.

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