South Sudan says it will ‘consider’ no longer using child soldiers if it can still kill gay people
South Sudan has agreed to reevaluate its use of child soldiers, on the condition that the country is still allowed to kill gay people.
The country was pushed to review laws that violate human rights laws such as the use of child soldiers and female genital mutilation.
However, the country disagreed to end the death penalty for gay sex because of its “traditional culture”.
The response comes after the United Nations Human Rights Council delivered a peer review at the end of last year.
The review asked the country to decriminalise homosexuality, despite rumours sparked by Sudan’s justice minister Paulino Wanawila that claimed it asked for marriage equality.
South Sudan said that ending the death penalty for gay intercourse was “in conflict with national laws and policies” and would only consider recommendations given by the UN if their “traditional culture” was respected.
In the country, law dictates that “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
However, local laws allow for the death penalty – making it more difficult for the UN and other human rights groups to enforce change.
Elizabeth Deng, a researcher for Amnesty International in South Sudan, told GSN that the country was undoubtedly “very hostile” towards homosexuality.
There are currently no LGBT activist groups either, as the last one that existed disbanded as members fled after reportedly being severely harassed.
Deng stressed that being “openly homosexual” was virtually impossible in the country because of its laws.
She said: “Given the lawlessness, it’s the kind of place where you could easily end up dead because your actual or perceived sexuality.
“I’m sure there are plenty of gay people in South Sudan who suffer in silence. Given what they know to be the cultural hostility, it would be a huge risk to their lives if they came out.
“I’m not expecting the UN report to have much impact on the government’s policies.”