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Sudan abolishes the death penalty for gay sex

But it will remain punishable with up to seven years in prison.

2020-07-17

Sudan has abolished the death penalty for gay sex as part of a series of human rights reforms in the east African state.

Last week, the Sovereign Council of Sudan amended article 148 of the Penal Code, which banned same-sex relations and prescribed the death sentence, as part of a series of widespread human rights reforms which also included a ban on female genital mutilation, public flogging, and the stoning of 'apostate' who leave the Islamic faith.

Despite the removal of the capital punishment for LGBTQ people, same-sex sexual relations will remain outlawed and punishable with up to seven years in prison.

However, the move reduces list of countries in which being gay is punishable by death: Currently, same-sex relations carry the death penalty in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen, and capital punishment remains an option in the UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Brunei and northern Nigeria under Sharia law.

Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Maria Sjödin, comments: "The removal of the death penalty for same-sex intimacy in Sudan among other important reforms, such as the banning of female genital mutilation and stoning for apostasy, is an important step for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, and human rights in Sudan overall.

"It is astonishing that over a third of the world's countries continue to criminalize same-sex love, and even more staggering that a handful prescribe the death penalty for consensual same-sex intimacy.

"It is encouraging that as of now, that number has been reduced by one. We can only hope that decriminalisation of same-sex love will follow."

The move follows the decriminalisation of homosexuality by two central African states, Gabon and Angola, over the last 18 months.

According to OutRight Action International, 67 countries continue to criminalise same-sex relations across the world, while bans on gay sex also remain in certain domestic jurisdictions, adding to that total.