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We, the Namibian Quaker Community, feel it is important to raise our stance on the rights of the LGBT+ community, in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions, and statements in Parliament and on social media.
The Quakers, also known as the Society of Friends, is a spiritual group rooted in Christianity. We are devoted to the principles of peace and justice.
Some of our concerns are:
- As a religious society we support the human rights and inherent dignity of everyone, including LGBT+ people, as it is our belief that there is ‘that of God in everyone’. We believe this is also in line with the principles of Ubuntu.
- The Quakers have often viewed the Bible as a document to be interpreted anew by each generation bearing in mind its deeper meaning and the social context in which it was written and the different translations available. We acknowledge that respect for heterosexual marriage is important and do not wish to devalue marriages between men and women. We merely would invite faith leaders to consider a more open-minded interpretation of the Christian Scriptures than is often quoted in judgment against those in same-sex relationships.
- In any secular state, a decision by government to recognize civil marriages does not compel any religious institution to bless same sex marriages among its members, and we accept that each church and faith community will have to make its own decisions in this regard, should same-sex marriage ever be legalized in Namibia.
- We are saddened by the hate speech that has been uttered at some recent public gatherings and protests in Namibia, on social media, and in Parliament, and would urge our leaders to reconsider these statements.
- The language that has been used by some politicians and public figures, for example comparing human homosexual relations to those of animals, or falsely accusing LGBT+ Namibians of spreading HIV or ‘grooming’ children, is especially concerning to us.
- We do not support the criminalizing of homosexual behavior, and we do not agree with so-called ‘conversion therapy’, which has been shown to be harmful.
Going forward, we acknowledge that communities of faith will have difficult discussions on same sex relationships. Such discussions are a process, similar to those around mixed-race relationships in Namibia’s not too distant past. Hence, these discussions should be conducted with regard for the dignity and safety of everyone, especially of LGBT+ people, and while listening to LGBT+ people within our congregations, families and communities with the intention to genuinely understand and seek ways forward together.
Justin Ellis, Clerk of the Namibia Quaker Community, 10 August 2023