Same- or opposite-gender anal sex is illegal in Sudan. The Penalty for the first-time constitutes sodomy anal sex is 5 years of imprisonment, 7 years of imprisonment for the second time, and life imprisonment for the third time (this was the death penalty before 2020). Sexual acts that do not constitute acts of sodomy can fall under ‘gross indecency’ and are punishable with ‘not more than forty lashes and shall also be liable for imprisonment for a term which may not exceed one year or fine.’ However, the penalty practically only applies to the man/men participant(s). There are no documented cases of executions. Same-gender sexual activities are legal for women. Transgender people are not recognised in Sudan and authorities do not allow citizens to change their gender or name. In December 2008 Sudan was one of 60 countries to sign a Syrian-led statement at the United Nations opposing the initial statement made by the Netherlands which called for decriminalising homosexuality. After the partition of Sudan in 2011, President Salva Kiir Mayardit promised full democracy, equality, and justice to all citizens but explicitly excluded homosexuals from this protection insisting that homosexuality was an imported idea.
Societal discrimination against LGBTQIA+ persons is widespread in Sudan. Vigilantes target suspected gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians subjecting them to violent abuse. There were public demonstrations against homosexuality in Khartoum. In 2010 a group of 30 men in Khartoum was convicted of violating Sudan’s public morality codes for cross-dressing, wearing make-up, and dancing in a “womanly fashion” at a private party. They were arrested without the presence of lawyers and had no right to speak during the trial. They were sentenced to 30 lashes and a fine. In 2013, it was reported that a group of nine Sudanese men was arrested and beaten for being gay at the private flat of a well-known singer. In a survey (2019), only 17% of Sudanese said homosexuality is acceptable.
LGBTQIA+ individuals flee from persecution and violence in their home country. Some leave for more tolerant African neighbouring countries such as Kenya and others must flee to safer destinations in Europe or North America.