The East African nation of Sudan has abolished the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality.
Local LGBTIQ rights group Bedayaa said the reform was one of several passed recently by the country’s Sovereign Council.
Article 148 of its Penal Code, which banned same-sex relations and prescribed whippings or the death penalty, was amended to remove the punishments.
However same-sex relations remain criminalised and punishable with up to seven years prison.
Bedayaa explained the change was a “great step” but they were “fully aware of the importance of its continuous and dedicated work to advocate for decriminalisation.”
OutRight Action International deputy director Maria Sjödin said scrapping the death penalty was an “important step for the human rights of LGBTQI people, and human rights in Sudan overall.”
“It’s astonishing that over a third of the world’s countries continue to criminalize same-sex love,” she said.
“It’s even more staggering that a handful prescribe the death penalty for consensual same-sex intimacy.
“As of now, that number has been reduced by one. We can only hope that decriminalization of same-sex love will follow.”
Sudan was among nine other countries with gay death penalty
Last month, Gabon voted to decriminalise homosexuality. The country’s government reversed a ban on gay sex put in place last year in the Central African nation.
Other African states including Angola, Seychelles, Mozambique and Botswana have also made recent steps forward.
According to the UK-based Human Rights Trust, 72 jurisdictions around the world still criminalise adult, consensual, same-sex relations.
However this number has declined dramatically in recent decades, through a mix of law reform and court rulings.
Almost half of all criminalising countries are on the African continent. Of the 72 countries, nine countries still have the death penalty for homosexuality.
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