A comment in a closed discussion group against homophobia makes headline news in Sudanese newspapers -six months later.
By Namaa Al-Mahdi
December 28, 2013 - Today Sudan is at war, the country is facing the biggest economic and social crisis since independence- yet a comment I made, against homophobia in a closed group of Sudanese intellectuals has made headline news- six months after the comment was made.
Initially when Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based journalist - Mona Abdul Fatah, took the comment from the discussion group and made it into an article; I was surprised.
Intellectuals contributing to the discussion in Dr Abdin’s list, were more than happy to slam homosexuality, to slam an individual’s choice to change religion, to remove me from the list for criticizing the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army’s attack of Abu-Krashola; perhaps intellectualism in the Sudan is not about rights and harbouring an open mind.
Since January 2011, I have contributed towards work that has released over 4000 political detainees, stopped the unlawful trials of hundreds of activists and nine journalists, contributed towards stopping several tribal wars in Abyei, East Darfur and South Darfur; stopped the arbitrary execution of over 27 prisoners of war and contributed towards the creation of a nation-wide advocacy and activism movement- none of which have made one line in any of the Sudan’s newspapers- yet a comment against homophobia has been made into an article in May 2013 and now headline news in four newspapers.
Not only has al Hurra, made it the headline news, the newspaper’s editor has made a comment about it, in the following day’s issue of the paper.
It is either that Sudan has no news and or is challenged by homosexuality and is looking for an outlet. Either way, it brings light into an issue of human right and the right to be whatever your sexuality is- in the Sudan.
The plight facing gay people in the Sudan came to my attention when a group of homosexual men in Albasyia, Omdurman started to die. Asim; a contract cook, Siddig and their house-mates all began to die the beginning of this year. Openly gay- many sought work as cooks or assistant cooks. The other incident was a newspaper article published in al- Sudani newspaper about a police campaign targeting homosexuality. Several men have been arrested and charged.
I am not sure why the newspapers have chosen to re-print the article 6 months later-nor am I sure why the newspaper editor has chosen to respond to a facebook comment I made about the article. Perhaps it is a slander campaign using people’s sexual orientation- which is petty and against human-rights. Whichever way- if its bullying.
The comment was taken out of context in a major way, but it has also served a purpose in highlighting the plight of homosexuals in the Sudan. It has also given me the opportunity to take the yellow sheets to court.
A conservative society- many discard their sons if they turn gay, in some cases honour killings is the norm. With regard to safety- condoms are banned by law, the anti-HIV campaign which is led by the president’s wife preaches abstinence, in a country with the fastest growing rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the Middle East. The “Smile” instead of “Shame” campaign has as far been useless against the rise in infections.
So what is there to do about Homosexuality in Sudan?- there is a great deal of mis-information about the subject; married men who have sex with men are labeled gay, married men who rape young boys are also labeled gay- yet National Intelligence and Security Officers who regularly rape male detainees get away scot- free with no labels.
The writer is a London-based Sudanese activist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org