The Namibian government has refused emergency travel documents for a gay couples’ twin daughters, who were born via surrogacy in neighboring South Africa, because the government says the fathers must first prove the babies’ “entitlement to citizenship by descent.”
38-year-old Phillip Lühl is a university lecturer, and a Namibian citizen. For the last five weeks, Lühl has been stuck in Johannesburg, SA with his twin girls, who were born there via surrogacy just over a month ago.
Meanwhile, Lühl’s husband Guillermo Delgado is back in Namibia with their two-year-old son, who was born to the same surrogate in SA. The couple are also embroiled in a legal battle with the Namibian government to gain their son’s citizenship.
In March, Namibia’s Minister of Home Affairs said he “did not agree to a request to issue the twins Namibian travel documents, because their entitlement to Namibian citizenship by descent had not been determined,” according to the BBC.
Both fathers' names are on the babies' birth certificates. Lühl said the paternity test being demanded of him by the state would not be required of a single mother or heterosexual couple.
On Monday, three weeks after they petitioned for a legal decision, the couple were dealt another blow when the Namibian High Court ruled against their request to compel the Home Affairs Minister to issue the girls’ documents.
Lühl said their daughters are now essentially "stateless,” and that Namibia's refusal to allow them entry amounts to "state-sanctioned homophobia.”
“So, as we celebrate Independence Day... we should remember that for many members of the LGBTQ community, the words ‘freedom and equality’… still ring quite hollow,” Lühl said in an Instagram video posted last month from Johannesburg, with the twins in the background.
“We have a Minister of Home Affairs who is essentially closing the door of the Namibian house to two baby girls who are not even a week old today,” he continued. “In the coming days, we will need your support to end this discrimination.” Lühl's supporters took to the street in protest a month ago, the BBC reports.
Despite the court’s denial of their request, Lühl and his family are not giving up until they are reunited. On Wednesday, April 21st, he submitted yet another request for emergency documents for the girls to enter the country.
“Just submitted a formal application for emergency travel documents at the Namibia High Commission in Pretoria as Judge Masuko suggested we do,” he said on Instagram. “Let’s see which trick will be pulled next.”