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Sudan has dropped the death penalty as a punishment for gay sex. Queers will instead be thrown in prison for loving who they love

Patrick Kelleher July 16, 2020
Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok gay sex

Sudan's new prime minister Abdalla Hamdok (EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP via Getty Images)

The African nation of Sudan has dropped flogging and the death penalty as punishments for gay sex – but queer people can still be thrown in prison under the country’s archaic laws.

The law was amended to remove the death penalty and floggings for gay sex last week, according to LGBT+ rights organisation Bedayaa.

The group said the country’s sovereign council approved a number of new laws and amendments on 9 July.

As part of those reforms, Article 148 of the 1991 Penal Code (the Sodomy Law) was amended.

Queer people can still be thrown in jail for having gay sex in Sudan.

Under the changes, a penalty of receiving a hundred lashes for gay sex was removed entirely, as was the reference to the death penalty in the third paragraph.

Instead, the Article now subjects queer people to jail time for having gay sex.

Under the amended law, a queer person can be sentenced to up to five years in prison for having gay sex for a first “offence”.

If a person is convicted a second time, the prison sentence can go up to seven years, while a third conviction can earn a lifetime in prison.

Bedayaa said the change in law was “a great step toward reforming the justice system in Sudan” and said it could “pave the path for new amendments for change”.

However, they noted that gay sex is still a criminal offence, and said they will continue fighting for full decriminalisation.

The law changes have been welcomed, but there is more work to do.

The country’s sovereign council also passed a number of other laws that will help to improve the lives of women, children and older people in the country.

Under the country’s new laws, female genital mutilation (FGM) has been banned and the requirement for women to get travel permits has been scrapped.

Sudan has also decriminalised apostasy – the formal disaffiliation from religion – an offence that was previously punishable by death.

Anti-torture charity Redress and the African Centre for justice and Peace Studies praised the new laws in a statement released earlier this week.

The organisations said the raft of law changes would “move Sudan a step closer towards eliminating structural violence against women and minorities”.

The country is just one of many countries in Africa where homosexuality continues to be a criminal offence.

Gay people can still be sentenced to death for the simple crime of having sex in a number of African countries.

More: Africa, Bedayaa, criminalisation of homosexuality, gay sex, Homosexuality, penal code, sodomy law, Sudan

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