Windhoek-Two transgender rights activists have said a statement that Bishop Shekutaamba Nambala made about the Evangelican Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) not recognising same-sex marriages and its refusal to bless people of the same sex wanting to marry each other is discriminatory.
Mama Africa and Jholerina Timbo, leaders of a transgender lobby group in Namibia, expressed their unhappiness about this issue during an interview with New Era newspaper on Friday.
Their grief emanates from Bishop Nambala’s discussion with Hosianna parishioners during a pastoral visit to the Windhoek diocese of ELCIN recently.
“We feel discriminated against and are afraid that such a statement might fan the fire of hate and stigma against us. It is also possible that there would be violence against us,” said Timbo.
They proposed that instead of ELCIN discussing and rejecting same-sex marriage, they would like to meet the church leadership to engage them on a face-to-face basis, so they can better understand one another. The activists who claim to lead an estimated 11,000, believe people do not only marry to make children, but do so out of love, to establish a partnership, to have companion, as well as to enjoy sex.
“Even if we, same-sex couples, are unable to procreate through marriage we are capable of raising children that we adopt as our own,” they said. “Thus we can also fulfill parenting roles, just like it is done by heterosexual parents,” noted a fired-up Mama Africa.”
They say they have given up attending church services, fearing that if they do they would be discriminated against. Thus they opt to pray in solitude for God’s forgiveness and blessing.
‘I pray to God, my creator, for forgiveness and blessings. He gives me what I ask him, for a house, a car and a boyfriend among all my basic needs” said Mama Africa.
Namibia has no legislation that explicitly recognises marital unions between people of the same sex. Some gay couples that want to marry opt to take their marriage vows in South Africa.
The issue of non-recognition of same-sex marriages raised by Bishop Nambala as leader of ELCIN was among several challenges that he listed and asked church members to find solutions for.
Among the pressing concerns raised by him were issues of unemployment, drug abuse, crime, theft, inconsiderate and careless driving on public roads, and many other social ills besetting society.