LGBT rights in Sudan

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Sudan (orthographic projection).svg
StatusIllegal since 1899 (as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan)[1] Also Islamic Sharia Law is applied
PenaltyUp to death. Complex gradation and sequence of alternative punishments - refer to the article
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

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, according to the Criminal Act, 1991.[2]

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, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex 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]

Also, Sudan voted against every supportive resolution of LGBT rights at the United Nations

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 Death)
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. ^ "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 (4 February 2011). "Sudan immediately countered with a No Action Motion, to block voting on Belgium's proposal and the group". Inner City Press. Retrieved 13 October 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 13 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Freedom Sudan, the sudanese LGBT association". Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  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 13 October 2018.

External links[edit]