In Sudan, for LGBT, more clouds on the horizon

Published: August 30, 2011

The preparation of this article started 8 July, the eve of the secession of southern Sudan from the Republic of Sudan to become an independent country. Southerners were very excited, obviously, but both northerners and southerners were wondering about what the future might hold for them. Homosexuals on both sides have more than their fair share of concerns.

In December 2010 president Omar Albashir stated in a public speech which preceded Southern Sudanese referendum in January this year:

    “If Southern Sudan chose the secession  the constitution will be then modified and there will be no place to talk about racial and cultural diversity and Islam and Shari’a* will be the main resources for legislation.”

This statement was made in the context of the “carrot and stick” policy attempted back then by the Northern government in order to persuade southerners who were living in the north to vote for unity in the 9 January referendum, however its echo stirred the fears of liberals, human right activists and, of course, LGBT community which had already suffered a great deal even during the transitional period between 2005 and 2011 in the name of Shari’a.

During this period, in concordance with the “Republic of Sudan Transitional Constitution for Year 2005”, shari’a remained the main resource of legislations on the national level and it has been actively implemented in the Northern states whereas the South was excluded.

Before the National Islamic Front came into power by the military coup d’état (National Salvation Revolution) which held up the logo of “Islamic State” and rejected the principle of  “Secular State” in 1989, before that, there were no laws that criminalised same sex between adults. However, only two years after that in the 1991 Penal Code man to man sex was criminalised under the name of “Sodomy” with the “guilty” being lashed and maybe imprisoned for the first and second convictions and subjected to death penalty for the third and last conviction. (The funny thing about this article is that anal sex between a man and a woman is included also as crime in the same article!)

As for “Acts of Obscenity” (public or private display of affection or a sexual behavior that does not reach the point of sexual intercourse) lashes, a year of imprisonment and a fine are all options. However, there is no clear mention in that law for same sex between women.

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