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Activists call on Sudan to decriminalise gay sex after repealing death penalty, flogging Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Activists call on Sudan to decriminalise gay sex after repealing death penalty, flogging

Sudan's transitional government has promised to lead the country to democracy [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2020

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Activists praised Sudan's decision to lift the death penalty for gay sex 'as first step', but warned that queer people could still jailed under the country's conservative laws.
Sudan's decision to lift the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex was hailed by activists on Thursday, with calls to decriminilise same-sex relations.

While many celebrated the decision, gay rights activists called to refrain from praising the African nation for switching its death penalty for gay sex to imprisonment – which can range from five years to life.

"A promising step. Now to decriminalise homosexuality and end LGBT persecution," Senthorun Raj, a lecturer in law and LGBT rights activist wrote on twitter.

Sudan's transitional government has promised to lead the country to democracy after toppling autocrat Omar al-Bashir – in power since 1989 – last year.

"These amendments are still not enough but they're a great first step for the transitional government that's trying to implement changes," Noor Sultan, founder of Bedayaa, an LGBT+ group in Egypt and Sudan was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Same-sex relations are criminalised in most of the Middle East and Africa, while Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria impose a death penalty for gay sex.

According to rights groups, Sudan's old law targetted gay men to 100 lashes for a first 'offence', while repeat offences could be punished with jail and later death penalty.

While the amendment has reduced the punishment, gay men who engage in sex can still face life imprisonment in the case of repeat offence. 

"Isn't it heart breaking that we as a community are 'celebrating' life imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty in Sudan. And there are STILL people who dont understand gay pride," one twitter user wrote.

According to Reuters, the latest amendment was part of reforms announced by Sudan's justice minister on Saturday.

Last week, Minister of Justice Nasredeen Abdulbari spoke of a wide-ranging plan to ease criminal laws, including repealing the death penalty for apostasy and lashing for drinking alcohol.

Read more: Sudan repeals death penalty for apostasy, allows alcohol in wide-ranging reforms

The amendments to the 1991 Criminal Law brought by Bashir's government is aimed at ensuring religious freedom for all of Sudan's citizens, including Christians and other minority groups, the official claimed.

Abulbari said Sudan will also introduce a ban on female genital mutilation, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of girls and women.

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