The East African nation of Sudan has removed the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality, leaving life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a third offense.
The Sudanese Sovereign Council also eliminated the imposition of 100 lashes as a punishment for same-sex intimacy, but left a punishment of up to five years in prison for a first offense. It established a penalty of up to seven years for a second offense.
Bedaaya, the LGBTQ+ rights advocacy organization of Egypt and Sudan, hailed the full package of reforms as “as a great step toward reforming the justice system in Sudan.”
Although Sudan’s anti-gay Article 148 is still in force, Bedaaya stated, “the queer movement in Sudan is fully aware of the importance of its continuous and dedicated work to advocate for decriminalization.”
Sudan’s repeal of the death penalty left a total of six nations with laws that allow for executions for gay sex. (See the article “6 nations have death penalty for gay sex; 4 carry it out”.)
Sudan has been in turmoil since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in April 2019. The military and pro-democracy advocates have been in a power struggle over the course of a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups. The regime has been under pressure from street protests demanding faster and more comprehensive reforms
The latest response to that pressure was the July 9 action by Sudan’s Sovereign Council in approving the package of reform laws, including making female genital mutilation a crime, dropping the law against turning away from Islam, and ending the death penalty for gay sex and for all convicted children and senior citizens.