(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Prior to the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, homosexuality was punishable under Shari’a law and sodomy was criminalised under the Federal Penal Code. Violation of this law resulted in penalties extending from lashings to the death penalty. In 2003, autonomous regions of South Sudan, known at the time as the ‘New Sudan’, introduced their own Penal Code in which sodomy continued to be prohibited.
The 2008 Penal Code set out by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, renewed the criminalisation of sodomy and Section 248, ‘law of unnatural offences’, stated that persons found to violate this law could be liable to a fine and face imprisonment of up to ten years. Further to this Section 379 criminalised ‘any male person who dresses or is attired in the fashion of a woman.’ This offence is punishable with up to three months in prison and a possible fine.
In the 2011 Passports and Immigration Act, Section 15 ‘Refusal or Cancellation of Visa’ states, ‘Without prejudice to the provisions of section (14) above, a visa shall not be granted to an alien who – (6) is reasonably suspected to be entering South Sudan for the purposes of prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism or human trafficking’..
No official case law has been found.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
In 2017 the US Department of State Country Report on Human Rights for South Sudan found that there have been no reports of the authorities enforcing the restrictive laws in recent years.
Societal discrimination against homosexuality is widespread in the South of Sudan. In July 2010, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, spoke of a nation of equal rights, democracy and justice. This, however, excluded the rights of homosexuals. Mayardit asserted that no homosexuals existed in South Sudan and if homosexuality was brought to South Sudan it would be ‘condemned by everybody’. Homosexuality, he stated, was not in the character of the people of South Sudan and was not a topic the public could speak about.
In 2012, Sudan’s first online gay magazine named ‘Rainbow Sudan’ became available. This predominantly highlights the situation within the Republic of Sudan but occasionally refers to LGBTI issues in South Sudan.
On April 27th 2012, a South Sudanese youth group, called the Sudan Africa National Union (SANU), strongly rejected the idea of same-sex marriage, on the grounds that it is an idea rooted in Western culture and one that should not to be imported into South Sudan: a nation with ‘culture, values and beliefs’. This view was supported by a member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), James Mawut Lueth, in an interview reported by the Sudan Tribune.
The majority of South Sudanese maintain Christian or traditional beliefs and the Christian Church is very influential in the state. In 2006, Archbishop Abraham Mayom Athiaan, head of the Anglican Church of South Sudan, told the Sudan Tribune: ‘We, the bishops together with our congregation of the Anglican Church of the Sudan (ACS) strongly condemn the practice of homosexuality … which is being practiced in Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) leaderships’. However, homophobic discrimination is also still seen to exist in the Episcopal Church.
On August 12 2006, a blog titled ‘Charly Alder in South Sudan’ reported on a story of a woman from the Dinka tribe. She had left Sudan for Canada, where she resided for five years. During this time she was able to freely discover her homosexual orientation. When she returned to South Sudan and revealed her homosexuality to her family she was immediately kidnapped in order to be sold to tribes who were known to practice human sacrifice. She was seen as possessed and a disgrace to her family.
In a review in 2004, Aleu Akechak Jok, an appellate court judge was reported saying that, in South Sudan, if men are found guilty of having consensual sex with one another they will be killed by firing squad.
In 2010, an estimated 128,000 people in South Sudan were living with HIV, accounting for around 3% of the population. Rates in Western Equatoria and in other southern regions of the country reached as high as 10%. Despite these statistics, the World Bank reported in April 2011, that activities relating to HIV/aids in South Sudan do not account for the needs of vulnerable groups such as LGBTI persons and ‘men who have sex with men (MSM).’.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
No records could be found of any NGOs working within The Republic of South Sudan focusing on the rights of LGBTI individuals. Readers who have more information on this are encouraged to get in touch with the contact below.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We currently have no Country of Origin Specialists for The Republic of South Sudan, but would welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Christina Haneef