Sudan is one of the strictest countries in the world which criminalize homosexuality. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and, according to Article 148, capital punishment applies to a man or woman engaging in such acts.
Punishments also include lashes and imprisonment.
Even without that, being out can have serious social and economic consequences – it typically means a loss of jobs prospects, ostracisation from family and community, even murder by so called ‘honour killings’.
We spoke to Rainbow Sudan editor Mohammad and other Sudanese gays and lesbians about the magazine and their life in Sudan.
Mohammad himself is a 32-year-old man, living in the capital Khartoum. He is energetic, comfortable about his sexuality, full of charm and wit. He also has a scholarly side; he loves poetry, history and sociology.
He told us that ‘to understand the gay community in Sudan you have to understand the religious factor here… it is a big taboo and regarded one of the biggest sins possible.’
Ibrahim, also 32 years old and a well-respected public figure, explained what that taboo means in practice.
‘If you are outed in Sudan the consequences are very serious: social rejection and even punishment according to the Sudanese law,’ he said. ‘The internet is my only life-line, I can talk with people, learn about LGBT issues and occasionally arrange to meet people. I have to be so careful, I if would be caught, exposed or worse, arrested, it would ruin me completely.’