(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Consensual male homosexual relationships are illegal in Sudan. Section 148 of the Penal Code 1991 explicitly prohibits sodomy, which it defines as anal penetration with no distinction being made between such acts conducted between single or mixed sex couples.
The penalty for sodomy is outlined in Subsection (2) of the Penal Code and consists of flogging of 100 lashes with potential liability for five years imprisonment. Conviction for a second time would result in both of the above sentences being carried out. Subsection (3) proscribes a life sentence or the death penalty to be passed for a third conviction.
Sexual acts that do not constitute sodomy but fall under ‘gross indecency’ are punishable with ‘not more than forty lashes and shall also be liable for imprisonment for a term which may not exceed one year or fine.’ (Section 151 Penal Code 1991)
In December 2008 Sudan was one of 60 countries to sign a Syrian-led statement at the UN opposing the initial statement made by the Netherlands which called for decriminalizing homosexuality; this initial statement was signed by 66 countries.
Sudan became signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 18th March 1986. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council states’ obligations to protect LGBTI persons can be found in the following articles:
- Article 2(1) – Detailing prohibition on discrimination ‘without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.
- Article 6(2) – detailing use of the death penalty only for the very worst crimes and only by a competent court.
- Article 9 – Everyone has the right to liberty and security of the person.
The UNHRC stipulates specifically the need to protect individuals from arbitrary killings by private individuals as well as by agents of the state and failure to do so is a direct contravention of the above provisions.
The UNHRC also states that the criminalisation of homosexuality violates the following provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
- Article 2 – Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without discrimination of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
- Article 7 – All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
- Article 12 – No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his reputation or honour.
OO (Sudan) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1432 (18 November 2009)
The claimant fled Sudan to the UK and based his asylum claim on his homosexuality and risk of persecution if he lived as a gay man in Sudan. The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) found that laws prohibiting homosexuality were rarely, if ever, enforced although the fact that they were in existence was an issue. Applying the rest set out in R v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant) ex parte Razgar (FC) (Respondent)  UKHL 27 it was found that Article 8 could be employed in this case. In the circumstances, there were not sufficient grounds to find that Article 8 rights would be infringed upon with the use of reasonable discretion and therefore the appeal was dismissed. The argument of reasonable discretion has since been overturned by HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
A 2014 Sida report on the Rights of LGBTI People in Sudan and South Sudan states that same-sex acts are illegal in Sudan and South Sudan and societal discrimination is widespread against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. That an overwhelming majority of the population in Sudan considers non-conforming sexuality and gender expression socially unacceptable. Also, few people dare talk about sexual orientation or gender identity publicly, for fear of personal attacks and threats to their safety. There are reports of vigilantes targeting suspected LGBTI people for violent abuse and public demonstrations against homosexuality. Further, criminalisation, discrimination and stigmatisation have made LGBTI people invisible; they often lack access to basic rights such as personal security, legal protection, and healthcare, and basic information about sexuality and sexual health.
In 2010 in the run up to the partition of Sudan in 2011, President Salva Kiir Mayardit – then First Vice President of Sudan promised full democracy, equality and justice to all citizens but explicitly excluded homosexuals from this protection insisting that homosexuality was an imported idea stating: “It is not in our character […] it is not there and if anybody wants to import it to Sudan […] it will always be condemned by everybody.”
In 2010 it was widely reported that a group of 30 men in Khartoum were convicted of violating Sudan’s public morality codes for cross dressing, wearing women’s make up and dancing in a “womanly fashion” – the private party at which they were arrested was described my the media in Sudan as a “gay wedding” despite the court making no reference to a marriage ceremony. The men had no lawyers present and were not permitted to speak during the trial. They were sentenced to 30 lashes- the sentence was carried out publically immediately after their trial; they were also ordered to pay 1,000 Sudanese pounds.
In February 2011 Sudan led a block vote at the UN’s Economic and Social Council against Belgium’s proposal to accept an application by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) for consultative status. The ’no action’ motion was immediately proposed by Sudan and was eventually successful in defeating Belgium’s motion by 9 votes to 7 stating ‘Our opposition to this organization is principled, because of the nefarious and evil acts done by this group’. At an earlier attempt to gain consultative status for ILGA in 2002 Sudan voted against the motion stating that the organisation had failed to provide ‘crystal clear evidence that it had rid itself and its members of paedophilia…the vote of not granting status to the NGO would affirm the will and commitment of the international community to protect our children’.
In 2012 a report on Sudan’s Blue Nile TV claimed that the country’s problems with HIV/AIDS was due to the fact teenage boys are sodomising younger males at school. This report was substantiated by a doctor who said that Sodomy is on the alarming increase in the country’s school system with older boys forcing younger boys to have sex with them in the school toilets with the result of spreading the AIDS epidemic.
In 2013 it was reported that a group of nine Sudanese men were arrested and beaten for being gay. The incident took place at the private flat of a well-known singer. Neighbours initially alerted police after being angered by the young men’s attire. In court the police alleged that at the time of the arrest the singer was wearing women’s clothes and two other suspects were in their underwear. The men were then charged with committing indecent acts. In court the men’s defence lawyer had claimed the trial had been unfairly influenced by consistent negative publicity by the media’s erroneous descriptions of the gathering as a ‘gay wedding’.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
NGOs supporting LGBTI persons in Sudan are listed here, we welcome more suggestions.
Freedom Sudan: The Sudanese LGBT Association (no webpage, see https://ilga.org/)
Freedom Sudan is the only LGBT organization in Sudan. The organization was formed in December 2006 and their status is illegal, therefore all their activities are carried out secretly. Freedom Sudan is an organization run by volunteers only and their main goals are: Recognition of homosexuality in Sudan, Social acceptance of homosexuality and acceptance of the rights of homosexuals in Sudan, Abrogation of the death penalty for homosexuals (Articles 148,151) and Work together with other LGBT organizations in the world for a better LGBT rights.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
No specialist on LGBTI issues in Sudan is currently listed here, but we welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Adrian Henderson