Sudan Repeals Death Penalty for Same-Sex Relations

Sudan LGBT

Amongst a number of law reforms that have been passed by the Sovereign Council of Sudan this week, there has been a repeal of the penal code that imposed the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual relations.

Under item 148 of the Penal Code in Sudan same-sex relations is banned and results in the death penalty but according to Bedayaa, an organization working to promote the rights of LGBTIQ people in the Nile Valley area, same-sex relations remain criminalized and punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years, but the application of the death penalty and flogging has been removed.

“Laws’ reformation also included Article 148 of the 1991 Penal Code (Sodomy Law)1, which removed; 1) “with shipping a hundred lashes” from the first paragraph, 2) “with shipping a hundred lashes” from second paragraph and instead added imprisonment of jail time not more than seven years, and 3) the word ” Death” from the third paragraph,” said the statement from Bedayaa.

Sudan has continued to be one of a handful of countries that explicitly prescribed the death penalty for same-sex relations, the others being Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen.

The death penalty is also possible in the UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Nigeria and Brunei under Sharia laws.

Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Maria Sjödin said the law changes were an important step forward.

“The removal of the death penalty for same-sex intimacy in Sudan among other important reforms, such as the banning of female genital mutilation and stoning for apostasy, is an important step for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, and human rights in Sudan overall,” Sjödin said.

“It is astonishing that over a third of the world’s countries continue to criminalize same-sex love, and even more staggering that a handful prescribe the death penalty for consensual same-sex intimacy.

“It is encouraging that as of now, that number has been reduced by one. We can only hope that decriminalization of same-sex love will follow.”

67 countries continue to criminalize same-sex relations across the world. Earlier this month the Senate of Gabon voted to reverse criminalization of same-sex relations which had been introduced 2019.

In May 2019 the High Court in Kenya decided to maintain a colonial-era ban on same-sex relations. A colonial-era ban was overturned in the High Court in Botswana in June 2019, but the government is appealing this decision.

In March 2020 the High Court in Singapore dismissed challenges to its ban on same-sex relations.