Namibia: Anti-Gay Marriage Protests 'Might Create Feelings of Hostility'

Namibian Police inspector general Joseph Shikongo has issued conditions to which people planning to protest against the recognition of same-sex marriage in Namibia will have to adhere during planned demonstrations to day.

In a letter addressed to protest organiser Shirley Magazi on Wednesday, Shikongo said while the police respect the right to public protest, there is a need to ensure public safety and stability.

"I have reason to believe that the intended peaceful demonstration might create feelings of hostility between different sections of the population or might interfere with peace, stability and the internal security of the country," Shikongo stated.

The organisation of the protests has been primarily conducted through certain WhatsApp groups, some of which harbour members espousing anti-gay sentiments and propagating acts of violence and hostility towards sexual minorities.

In his letter to Magazi, Shikongo warned against violence and incitement of violence, including hate speech and vulgar language. The distribution or carrying of pamphlets promoting hate speech or violence is not allowed and damage to public or private property is strictly prohibited as well.

Shikongo added that subversive utterances against the government's authority are prohibited.

He said the carrying of weapons, including knives or imitation firearms, is strictly prohibited at the planned demonstrations and anyone found with a weapon will be immediately removed from the protest site and may face legal consequences.

Alcohol consumption is also prohibited as the law against public intoxication will be enforced.

The police will be present at the designated protest locations to maintain order, Shikongo said.

Protests against the Supreme Court's judgement in which the government was ordered two weeks ago to recognise two same-sex marriages validly concluded outside Namibia are planned to take place in Windhoek and at Rundu, Nkurenkuru, Gobabis, Eenhana and Keetmanshoop.

Meanwhile, the Namibian wing of the Methodist Church of southern Africa has distanced itself from today's anti-LGBTQI+ protests, calling on its members to abstain from participating in the protest.

The protest is seeking to advocate a law against same-sex marriage and related practices in Namibia.

"I respectfully advise all Methodists to refrain from participating in this march, which is a grave violation of the LGBTQI+ community's human rights," bishop Christopher Gaya said in a statement on Wednesday.

He reminded congregants that the church at its 2001 conference adopted the principle that "seeks to be a community of love rather than rejection", and in 2014 "that any form of victimisation, hatred or violence towards homosexual people should be condemned in the strongest possible terms".

He said the church still stands by these statements.

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