LGBT rights in Sudan

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LGBT rights in Sudan
Sudan (orthographic projection).svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Illegal since 1899 (as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan)[1] Also Islamic Sharia Law is applied
Up to death. Complex gradation and sequence of alternative punishments - refer to the article
Military service Unknown
Discrimination protections Unknown
Family rights
Recognition of
Adoption Unknown

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Sudan face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Despite not being actively enforced, the death penalty for male same-sex behavior remains on the books in Sudan.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Sudan. The Criminal Act, 1991 provides as follows:[2]

Article 19. Attempt is the commission of an act which apparently indicates the intention to commit an offence, where the offence has not been consummated, due to a cause beyond the offender's will.

Article 20. (1) Whoever attempts to commit an offence shall be punished with imprisonment, for a term, which may not exceed one-half of the maximum term prescribed for that offence....

(2) Where the penalty of any one offence is death ..., punishment for attempt thereof shall be imprisonment, for a term, not exceeding seven years.

Article 148. (1) There shall be deemed to commit sodomy, every man who penetrates his glans, or the equivalent thereof, in the anus of ... another man's, or permits another man to penetrate his glans, or its equivalent, in his anus.

(2)(a) whoever commits the offence of sodomy, shall be punished, with whipping[Note 1] a hundred lashes, and he may also be punished with imprisonment for a term, not exceeding five years;

(b) where the offender is convicted for the second time, he shall be punished, with whipping a hundred lashes, and with imprisonment, for a term, not exceeding five years;

(c) where the offender is convicted for the third time, he shall be punished, with death, or with life imprisonment.

Article 151. (1) There shall be deemed to commit the offence of gross indecency, whoever ... does any sexual act, with another person not amounting to ... sodomy, and he shall be punished, with whipping, not exceeding forty lashes, and he may also be punished, with imprisonment, for a term, not exceeding one year, or with fine.[Note 2]

(2) Where the offence of gross indecency is committed in a public place ... the offender shall be punished, with whipping not exceeding eighty lashes, and he may also be punished, with imprisonment, for a term, not exceeding two years, or with fine.

Article 152. (1) Whoever commits, in a public place, an act, or conducts himself in an indecent manner, or a manner contrary to public morality, or wears an indecent, or immoral dress, which causes annoyance to public feelings, shall be punished, with whipping, not exceeding forty lashes, or with fine, or with both.

(2) The act shall be deemed contrary to public morality, if it is so considered in the religion of the doer, or the custom of the country where the act occurs.

Nuba tribal society in the 1930s[edit]

Siegfried Frederick Nadel wrote about the Nuba tribes in the late 1930s.[3]

He noted that among the Otoro, a special transvestitic role existed whereby men dressed and lived as women. Transvestitic homosexuality also existed amongst the Moru, Nyima, and Tira people, and reported marriages of Korongo londo and Mesakin tubele for the bride price of one goat.

In the Korongo and Mesakin tribes, Nadel reported a common reluctance among men to abandon the pleasure of all-male camp life for the fetters of permanent settlement.

Both tribes feel strongly that marriage and sex life are inimical to physical strength. ... Young married men ... will spend four or five nights with their wives in the village and then return for a fortnight or month to the cattle camp.... They would tell you that they "dislike living in the village". I have even met men of forty and fifty who spent most of their nights with the young folk in the cattle camps rather that at home in the village. ... Behind this grudging submission to marital and adult life in general, behind the secondary sentiments of fondness of camp life and male company, we discover the primary, and quite open, fear of sex as the destroyer of virility. Not sex in the ephemeral, physical sense – the adolescent incontinence of these tribes precludes this – but sex transformed into a permanent fetter, spiritual (as love) and social (as marriage). We will not probe the psychological depth of this antagonism. Let me only point out two things: first, that it occurs in a matrilineal society, that is, a society in which the fruits of procreation are not the man's. And, secondly, that it is accompanied, not only on the strong emphasis on male companionship, but also, in the domain of the abnormal, by widespread homosexuality and transvesticism.[3]:pages: 299-300

Politics regarding LGBT rights[edit]

In the United Nations on February 4, 2011, The International Lesbian and Gay Association application for consultative status for the UN's Economic and Social Council was called for a vote.[4] Sudan then called for a No Action Motion to prevent voting on the consultative status for the LGBT group, and their motion passed 9-7 so the issue was not voted on.[4]

Social attitudes[edit]

Same-sex sexual relations have divided some religious communities. In 2006, Abraham Mayom Athiaan, a bishop in South Sudan, led a split from the Episcopal Church of Sudan for what he regarded as a failure by the church leadership to condemn homosexuality sufficiently strongly.[5]

The U.S. Department of State's 2011 human rights report found that,

The law prohibits sodomy ...; however, there were no reports of antisodomy laws being applied. There were no known lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) organizations. Official discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity occurred. Societal discrimination against LGBT persons was widespread. Vigilantes targeted suspected gay men and lesbians for violent abuse, and there were public demonstrations against homosexuality.[6]

The first LGBT association of the country is Freedom Sudan, founded in December 2006.[7] However, no internet presence is seen from the group after 2013 on Facebook page.[8] Another group Rainbow Sudan,[9] was founded on 9 February 2012.[10] Its founder, known as Mohammed, said,

A dear friend of mine gave me the idea of funding Sudan Rainbow. We started working together for it and even now he helps me a lot in this project. Now we have a couple of groups that work online and offline. We form a small network of people working in an organized way to advance as much as possible LGBTQ issues, to show who we are, to stop discrimination, to see our rights recognized. We provide sexual education, psychological and emotional support, protection.[10]

There is also no continued internet presence for Freedom Sudan after January 2015.[11]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Up to 5 years in prison and flagellation. Death or life in prison for the third offense)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Article 35. (1) Save in Hudud offences, no sentence of whipping shall be passed, upon a person, who attained sixty years of age, or a sick person, whose life would be endangered by whipping, or whose sickness would thereby be aggravated.

    (2) Where the penalty of whipping is remitted, by reason of age, or sickness, the offender shall be punished with an alternative penalty.

  2. ^ Article 34. (1) The court shall assess fine with reference to the nature of the offence committed, the amount of wrongful gain obtained thereby, the degree of the offender's participation and his financial status.


  1. ^ "Where is it illegal to be gay?". 10 February 2014 – via
  2. ^ "Sudan: 1991 Criminal Act as Amended in 2009". Refworld. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Nadel, S. F. "The Nuba; an anthropological study of the hill tribes in Kordofan" – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ a b Lee, Matthew Russell (February 4, 2011). "Sudan immediately countered with a No Action Motion, to block voting on Belgium's proposal and the group". Inner City Press. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  5. ^ "South Sudan Anglican Church rejects tribalism and homosexuality", Sudan Tribune, reported by Manyang Mayom, 17 October 2006
  6. ^ "2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Sudan, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, page 41" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Freedom Sudan, the sudanese LGBT association". Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  8. ^ "Freedom Sudan, the sudanese LGBT association". Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  9. ^ "Rainbow Sudan". Rainbow Sudan.
  10. ^ a b "LGBT rights in Sudan: someone fights for the rainbow", il grande colibri, 13 January 2013
  11. ^ "January | 2015 | Rainbow Sudan". Retrieved 2018-10-13.

External links[edit]