A Namibian man and his newborn twin children are stranded in South Africa after the government refused to recognize his status as their father.
According to GayNation, Phillip Lühl’s daughters, Paula and Maya, were born in South Africa through a surrogate on March 13, Now, the twins have not been barred from returning to their father’s home. The reason being, Namibia’s Home Affairs Ministry has refused to give the twins travel documents. At its heart, the issues is the government doesn’t recognize Lühl’s marriage.
Architect and University professor Lühl married his Mexican-born husband, University professor Guillermo Delgado, in South Africa in December 2014. But, same-sex marriage is not legal in Namibia, as Face2FaceAfrica reports. As such, the South African country does not recognize Lühl’s parentage of the twins.
Despite the registered birth certificates recognizing both men as parents, the ministry asked for genetic proof that Lühl is the biological father of the children. It also took this stance in an earlier case when Lühl sued the minister in pursuit of citizenship for the twins’ older brother, Yona.
Delgado, who is currently waiting in Namibia with the couple’s 2-year-old Yona, applied for a permanent residence permit in December of last year. In the end, the Immigration Selection Board rejected the application saying he had “insufficient means of sustenance.” Delgado argues, however, that he had sufficient means as his available savings and investments exceed N$1 million (approximately $68,848.00).
Now, the twins are essentially stateless and stuck in South Africa. In response, Lühl has filed an urgent application in the Windhoek High Court. He’s asking the court to order the Namibian minister of home affairs, immigration, safety, and security to issue emergency travel certificates to his daughters or allow the three to enter Namibia.
Meanwhile, BBC News reports that protests sprung up in late March in response to the situation. Activists marched the streets in Namibia in support of the family. The protesting and Namibia’s recent Independence Day led to Lühl reflecting on the situation in a social media post.
“For many members of the LGBTQ community, the words freedom and equality, after 30 years, still ring quite hollow. We have a minister of Home Affairs who is essentially closing the door of the Namibian house to two baby girls that are not even a week old,” he said.
To date, the family has remained separated. A petition has started to express support of the family. Meanwhile, the Namibian High Court will announce its decision on the matter on April 19.