An LGBTQ Guide to the World: Sudan

Challenges remain.

An LGBTQ Guide to the World: Sudan

While there’s still a long way to go for LGBTQ people in Sudan, Reuters reports that there has been a step forward with the country removing the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality.

Under Sudan’s sodomy law, gay men faced 100 lashes for the first offence, five years in jail for the second and the death penalty the third time around. The punishments have been reduced to prison terms, ranging from five years to life.

A socially conservative country, the removal of the death penalty for homosexuality is part of reforms being made by a transitional government that came to power in 2019. This is a shift away from a strict Islamic-based legal system that has in place for the past 40 years.

The transitional government has said that it will lead Sudan to a democratic system of government after taking power from Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Sudan?

The removal of the death penalty is unlikely to change much in the day-to-day lives of LGBTQ people in Sudan. Homosexuality remains a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment, and there is no protection from discrimination or hate-crimes.

Laws prohibiting same-sex sexual activity in Sudan are currently documented in the Criminal Act, 1991. Laws prohibiting Sodomy appear to have been introduced to the country in 1899, following colonisation of the region by Britain.

The history of the region now known as Sudan is long and complex. Different kingdoms and empires have ruled as the centuries have passed.

Homosexuality is not a new thing in this region. It has been documented in various forms throughout Sudan’s history, both in tribal life, and the Arabian sultanates that ruled these lands.

Islamic Law was introduced to Sudan in 1983, at it appears that this is when the death penalty was introduced for homosexuality.