The world’s newest country, South Sudan, which came into formal existence on July 11, will criminalise homosexuality.

Before independence, homosexuality was punished throughout Sudan under Islamic Sharia law, with penalties extending from lashings to the death penalty.

South Sudan’s now president Salva Kiir Mayardit has previously spoken of a new Sudan where “all citizens” enjoy “equal rights”, a country based on “democracy, equality and justice”.

But rights of homosexuals will not be included, with Mayardit telling Dutch media there were no homosexuals in South Sudan.

“[Homosexuality] is not there and if anybody wants to import or to export it to Sudan, it will not get the support and it will always be condemned by everybody,” Mayardit said.

“It is not even something that anybody can talk about here in southern Sudan.”

Under the South Sudanese penal code, same-sex relations can be punished with up to 10 years prison and a fine.

Unlike majority Muslim Sudan to the north, most South Sudanese follow Christian or traditional animist beliefs.

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