Last Updated 10 November 2016

Namibia is a democratic and secular sovereign state with a population of approximately 2.1 million. Approximately 80% are reportedly Christian, with the remaining 10-20% holding traditional indigenous beliefs while a small minority of around 1-3% are said to be Muslim.

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Constitution and government

Despite Namibia being a deeply religious country, the constitution and other laws enshrine secularism, freedom of religion and expression. The preamble to the constitution recognises “the right of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of race, colour, ethnic origin, sex, religion, creed or social or economic status” and in practise these principles are generally upheld.

Although the vast majority of the population are Christians, there is no officiated state religion in Namibia. Article 19 of the constitution includes a broad and vigorous proclamation that “every person shall be entitled to enjoy, practise, profess, maintain and promote maintain and promote any culture, language, tradition or religion”. This is further ratified in article 21 which explicitly includes the “freedom of thought, conscience and belief” and “freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice”.

Family, community and society

Reports of any discrimination or based on religious belief or societal abuses to freedom of thought are hard to come by, and accounts generally suggest that matters are generally peaceable in this regard. Religious groups are required to register with the Ministry of Health and Social services in order to qualify for tax exempt status and receive the opportunity to purchase land at a discounted rate. The state has been willing to recognise all religious groups that have wished to register and there are no examples of difficulty or impediment in registration.

Relations between different faiths and denominations appear to be amicable, the state consults annually with religious leaders; although it is unclear what level of influence they have on policy making.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom House has reported that the state has occasionally used harsh or threatening language when responding to independent news stories that are critical of the state, but in general there is a strong level of media freedom and plurality.


Homosexuality remains illegal based on the common law offence of committing “an unnatural sex crime”, though this is generally not enforced. There is, however, a persistent cultural sense of social prejudice reported by members of the LGBT community, resulting in some reports of street attacks. In 2012, Wendelinus Hamutenya was attacked two weeks after winning the of “Mr. Gay Namibia”. It was reported that the authorities were seemingly uninterested:

“I laid a case at the nearest police station. I went there a few days ago to hear what progress was being made, since two months have passed. Police told me the docket (case documents) got lost”.

— Wendelinus Hamutenya

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