In a historic win for LGBTQI activists and rights in Africa, Sudan this week finally repealed the death penalty for individuals that engage in consensual sexual acts with a person of the same sex.

The amendment made to article 148 of the Sudan Penal Code, forms part of a larger reform aimed at protecting human rights and also includes amendments to public flogging, a ban on female genital mutilation, and the stoning of ‘apostate’ who leave the Islamic faith. However, same sex relations will still remain outlawed and punishable with up to seven years in Jail.

With this change there are now only nine countries where same sex relations are punishable by death, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and Somalia.

Maria Sjödin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action this week said of this historic moment, “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 LGBTQI people, and human rights in Sudan overall.

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 “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.”

What is most encouraging though is that the Sudan follows two other central African States, Gabon and Angola, which moved to decriminalise homosexuality in the past 18 months.

What is important for us and our communities closer to home is to remember that the same rights we have fought so hard for are battles that are still being waged by our LGBTQI brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

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

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