Gay couple fights Namibian government over surrogate-born twins

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4/16/21

On a calm autumn afternoon, newborn twins Maya and Paula lay peacefully on a mattress at a Johannesburg house, blissfully taking turns to bottle-feed and nap, oblivious of the uncertainty over their citizenship status. They are daughters of a Namibian-Mexican gay couple, and the Namibian authorities have dragged their feet on issuing documents for the girls born to a South African surrogate mother to travel to Windhoek. They have demanded proof of a biological connection to the infants on the part of the parents, 38-year-old Phillip Luehl and his partner Guillermo Delgado, 36. The men are now pinning their hopes on a Namibian High Court ruling, scheduled for Monday, to at least allow the infants to secure temporary documents to travel to Windhoek and join Delgado and their two-year-old brother Yona. Before the babies arrived, the couple had applied for papers to ensure they would be able to travel home to Namibia shortly after birth. “To our surprise that… very innocent request was denied,” Luehl told AFP. Now “I’m here in South Africa with the girls and cannot travel, cannot enter Namibia,” he said as the girls’ 70-year-old grandmother, Frauke Luehl, bottle-fed one while the other slept. For now, a house in Johannesburg’s leafy suburb of Auckland Park is the girls’ temporary home. Luehl and Delgado argue that there is no legal basis to require DNA proof of a biological relationship and that they are being targeted and “discriminated” against because they are a same-sex couple. “This requirement would never be asked from a heterosexual couple… (or) from a single mother who gave birth in South Africa, and comes to Namibia,” Luehl said.

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