New online magazine for LGBT culture & politics in the Sudan
Even though homosexuality is still a capital offence in the troubled country, a gay media outlet in the Sudan has gone live as of Feb 9 of this year. Rainbow Sudan has published over 30 articles on Sudanese culture, as well as the thorny issue of Islam and homosexuality – as well as advice on reconciling the two.
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Many of the articles on Rainbow Sudan address a perennial challenge of GLBT people in Africa and in many parts of the Arab world: denialism. Before they can even write about the need for more civil rights or freedom of expression, the activist blogger has to confront the insidious popular belief that homosexuality “doesn’t exist,” a method of oppression common amongst politicians wishing to associate homosexuality with foreign influence.
“It is funny, although that it been known for years that Homosexuality exists in Sudan. People act like it’s a new thing in our history longer before it become the case in religion we talked about it more than 1400 years ago and we know it existed long long before that and they still denied the fact that we are here… these are fact[s]…” the blogger writes in a post entitled “Homosexuality in Sudan,” adding “I hope you find it interesting.”
The up-beat blog promotes LGBT culture in the country, but also takes aim at the severe homophobia which persists in the Sudanese law. “For homosexual men, lashes are given for the first offense, with the death penalty following the third offense,” which makes the Sudan one of only 8 countries where the death penalty is still applied for same-sex relations. The blogger quotes a 2010 US State Department report stated that “societal discrimination against homosexual persons was widespread both in the North and the South,” adding that “in the North, vigilantes targeted suspected homosexual persons for violent abuse.”
South Sudan has been a separate state since July of 2011, following 20 years of brutal civil war. While Sudan (the northern expanse of the country which borders Egypt) maintains the death penalty for same-sex behaviour, South Sudan holds a maximum sentence of 10 years. The blogger has also written posts on 8th-Century Persian poet Abu Nuwas and 14th-Century Egyptian poet Muhammad al-Nawaji bin Hasan, as part of a project that takes a revisionist queer literary approach in “Our Gay History.” We’re here now, but we have been here forever, the anonymous writer of Rainbow Sudan declares, both to challenge the powers that be, and to provide hope to those living in secrecy and isolation.