The human right to Unity of the Family versus the (lack of) Recognition of Same Sex marriage



The clashes between family unity; gay rights; recognition of same sex marriage and immigration legislation have always been interesting. Opposing parties both depose rather clear statements when arguing their case and the friction between the schools of thought is evident.

Imagine a situation in which the same-sex (legally married in the USA) spouse of a highly qualified engineer from Los Angeles approaches me, the immigration consultant, with the question:

“Can I accompany my husband during his 4-year work assignment to Botswana?”

My answer would have to be ‘’no’’. Recognition of gay marriage is, despite the many colourful rainbows we find on Facebook nowadays and the passing of many years since the first legalization of same-sex marriage, far from a global norm.    

In order to illustrate:

former president of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, was recently quoted stating that “when one talks about human rights, they must not include homosexualism and lesbianism. Reason being that such behaviour is not part of the African culture and any rights extended to protect and recognize homosexualism and lesbianism will be condemned.’’

Quoted expressing similar sentiments is President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who addressed homosexuals as “worse than pigs”.

For many (Western) people it is an unpleasant surprise to learn that such statements are to be heard quite commonly, even in this day and age, in many African countries.

Although there might be an increase of openness towards same sex couples in Africa, the above quoted statements clearly illustrate that the tone is still rather strongly anti recognition of same-sex partnership.

In the Southern African region

South Africa is the first and only country recognizing same-sex marriage. The country offers a variety of protections to same-sex couples and closely monitors that discrimination on the work floor based on sexual preference is opposed. The movement advocating equal rights for gay people in South Africa has been boosted strongly by the country’s own recent, tainted history.

Discriminating against gay people, after years of fighting the discrimination of people based on the colour of their skin, does not suit the New South Africa (post 1994 South Africa).

As a consequence of the above, South Africa is the only country in Southern Africa which can accommodate protecting the family unity of a same-sex family.

In South Africa the same-sex spouse is eligible to obtain a spousal visa, whether it be to reside with his or her South African partner or to accompany a foreigner whom holds a work permit in South Africa.

IBN is of the conviction that good relationships, whether they be heterosexual, same-sex or bi-racial, just to name a few contemporary varieties, all incorporate similar characteristics. Caring for one another is key.

In an ideal, happy clappy world this article had not been written. Spouses would be able to live together anywhere.


by Job Feenstra