August 4, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese court has sentenced 19 men to flogging in public and a fine of 1000 Sudanese pounds (approximately 400 US dollars) for breaching the country’s morality code by wearing women clothes.
The alleged transvestites, whose public flogging yesterday was witnessed by some 200 people, were caught last month when the police raided their private party in a flat in Omdurman town.
Some local newspapers reported that the party was thrown to celebrate same sex marriage.
According to Reuters, the trial judge said that the police found the men dancing in “a womanly fashion”
The men had no defense lawyers to represent them. One lawyer told Reuters on condition of anonymity that legal advocates were afraid to take on such a defense.
"These people did not get a chance for justice," he said, adding that "public opinion and the media prejudged them and lawyers were too scared to come and defend them."
Intolerance of homosexuality is one quality that north Sudan, where the majority of population follows Suuni Islam, shares with the semi-autonomous region of the south whose population is predominantly Christian or follows traditional beliefs.
Under article 148 of Sudan’s Penal Criminal Code of 1991, homosexuality is punishable by death or life imprisonment if a person found guilty of it for the third time.
This week, south Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayrdit told a radio station that homosexuality would not be accepted in south Sudan should it become an independent state in 2011. Kiir said that homosexuality is an “imported” idea that does not exist in indigenous culture.
"It [homosexuality] is not in our character [...] it is not there and if anybody wants to import it to Sudan [...] it will always be condemned by everybody." Kiir said.
Last year, the first Sudanese organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, LGBT Sudan, was launched in cyberspace. The organization’s website has 124 members and states that one of its goals is to gain recognition of homosexuality in Sudan.
In 1992, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases and health related problems.