Namibia said Tuesday it had issued travel documents to twin infants of a gay couple born to a South African surrogate mother after weeks of legal wrangling.

Last month, a Windhoek High Court threw out a bid by the couple, 38-year-old Phillip Luehl and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado, 36, to force the government to issue the documents.

But a fresh court application on Monday saw the government backtracking even before the new case was heard.

The government said it received the applications for the travel certificates at a time when there was a change of guard in the home ministry.

The new minister Albert Kawana studied the earlier court documents and “authorised the issuance of emergency travel certificates applied for”, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

This “is a very positive step forward,” one of the fathers, Luehl, told AFP.

“We are of course happy, but also at the same time perplexed that it takes such an immense amount of fighting and resources, and emotional strain to get a simple bureaucratic decision taken,” he told AFP.

The twins were born in the eastern South African port city of Durban on 13 March and have been living in Johannesburg.

Homosexuality is illegal in Namibia under a rarely enforced 1927 sodomy law dating back to South African rule.

Namibia’s home ministry has refused to recognise the couple’s December 2014 marriage in South Africa.

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