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Namibia’s sodomy laws have been overturned – what that means for LGBTIQ+ rights in the country

Namibia’s sodomy laws have been overturned – what that means for LGBTIQ+ rights in the country

THE Namibian high court recently invalidated the country’s colonial-era “sodomy law”, which had made consensual sexual acts between men a criminal offence. The court declared that the common law offences of “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual offences” were unconstitutional. This ruling follows a separate decision in 2023 where Namibia’s supreme court ruled to recognise certain same-sex unions contracted outside the country. These two cases are being celebrated as victories for LGBTIQ+ rights in the country and the continent – following similar rulings in South Africa (1998), Botswana (2019) and Mauritius (2023). We asked human rights law lecturer John Nakuta about the…
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India’s Assam scraps colonial-era Muslim marriage law

India’s Assam scraps colonial-era Muslim marriage law

INDIA'S Assam state has scrapped an 89-year-old law that allowed marriage involving underage Muslims, against opposition from leaders of the minority community who called the plan an attempt to polarise voters on religious lines ahead of elections. Assam, which has the highest percentage of Muslims among Indian states at 34%, has previously said it wants to implement uniform civil laws for marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance, as the state of Uttarakhand did earlier this month. Nationwide, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other groups follow their own laws and customs or a secular code for such matters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata…
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Zimbabwe cabinet scraps colonial-era death penalty law

Zimbabwe cabinet scraps colonial-era death penalty law

ZIMBABWE'S cabinet agreed to abolish the death penalty following months of debate in parliament, choosing instead to impose lengthy prison sentences for the worst offences. The cabinet passed a private member's bill introduced last year in the National Assembly to abolish the death penalty inherited from British colonial rule. "In view of the need to retain the deterrent element in sentencing murderers, it is expected that the new law will impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life," the cabinet said in a statement. "The existence of aggravating circumstances may attract life sentences." Zimbabwe carried out its last execution…
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Vatican repudiates colonial-era ‘doctrine of discovery’

Vatican repudiates colonial-era ‘doctrine of discovery’

THE Vatican has formally repudiated the colonial-era "doctrine of discovery", used centuries ago to justify European conquests of Africa and the Americas, saying "it is not part of Catholic Church teaching". The Vatican acknowledged in a statement from its culture and human development departments that papal documents from the 15th century were used by colonial powers to give legitimacy to their actions, which included slavery. The departments specifically mentioned the papal bulls Dum Diversas (Until Different) from 1452, Romanus Pontifex (The Roman Pontiff) from 1455, and Inter Caetera (Among Other Things) from 1493. "Historical research clearly demonstrates that the papal…
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