Immigration bans baby girls from Namibia

21 March 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH
A Namibian father of three has brought an urgent appeal to the Windhoek
High Court after immigration authorities effectively declared his newborn twin
daughters stateless and banned them from coming home with him after their
birth this month in South Africa.
The twins, Maya and Paula Delgado Lühl, were born via surrogacy to
Namibian citizen Phillip Lühl and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado
Castañeda who have made a home in Namibia since 2009.
The couple have a two-year-old son who stayed behind with Castañeda in
Namibia while Lühl attended the birth.
The ministry of home affair’s refusal to issue the children the necessary travel
papers has effectively rendered them “stateless and homeless”, court
documents explain.
Lühl’s affidavit underlines that home affairs’ decision to ban their travel back
home with him is an attempt to “forcibly separate me from my children,
thereby leaving them uncared for, abandoned and stateless. Nothing could be
further from the best interests of the children.”
While the birth certificates identify Lühl as their legal parent, they are not
South African citizens and in order to be able to travel home, they need either
a passport or an emergency travel document. Usually, children assume the
nationality of their parents, but in this case, Namibian authorities refuse to do
so.
“We have the right to come home,” says in court documents.
In a video posted and shared by him over the weekend, he said:
“As we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow we should remember that for
many members of the LGBTQ community the words ‘freedom and equality’
still ring quite hollow. And 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 one week old today.”
He appealed for support “to end this discrimination and to allow Paula and
Maya to come back home.”

The Namibian Equal Rights Movement has called on allies to join a march on
25 March before the urgent application will be heard in Windhoek.
Homeless
Lühl and Castañeda have long faced hurdles at the hands of immigration
authorities, who refuse to acknowledge their older son’s citizenship by
descent, and Castañeda’s residential rights, contrary to the treatment of
heterosexual spouses in similar situations.
Lühl’s affidavit says the ministry’s conduct towards his family, and now his
newborn daughters, “is not only entirely unreasonable, it is callous,
disrespectful, irresponsible and downright malicious.”
Lühl argues that ignoring his daughter’s birth certificates makes no sense,
and is not justified “simply because they cannot fathom that two males can
lawfully be parents to a child.”
He underlines that the ministry is “so intent to harass me and my family, that
they and their officials are willing to violate just about every right my children
have in terms of not only the Namibian constitution, but internationally binding
law on the rights and welfare of children.”
Lühl’s legal team will argue that he and his husband have the right to a family.
And, while the home affairs ministry will insist that marriage can only be
possible between a man and a wife, this heterosexual male-female link
“cannot be extended to the concept and notion of family.”
Lühl will be represented by lawyer Unomwinjo Katjipuka-Sibolile from Nixon
Marcus Public Law Office, while the home affairs minister is represented by
government lawyer Jabulani Ncube.
The case will be heard on Thursday at 09:00 by High Court judge Thomas
Masuku.

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