Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sudanese Queer Voices

Sudanese Queer Voices is project aim to document the oral history of the members of LGBTQI community in Sudan

The Republic of the Sudan is located in north-eastern Africa between Egypt and Eritrea, bordering the Red Sea in north east. It is bordered by Libya in north west, by Chad in west, by the Central African Republic in south west, by South Sudan in south and by Ethiopia in south east. Sudan has an area of ​​about 1,882,000 million square kilometers, it is the second largest country in Africa. Sudanese cultural heritage consist of a formations of local cultures and imported ones over the centuries, which made a unique composition of a variety of demographics and ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversities.

Sudan liberated from the Egyptian British colonization on the first of January 1956 and burst into civil war since before the Declaration of Independence until 2005-except for intermittent periods of peace- as a result of deep conflicts between the central government in the north of Sudan and armed political movements in the south. civil war ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement, then South Sudan became an independent state in 2011. Also in Darfur region of western Sudan, which represents about a fifth of the area of ​​Sudan an armed conflict erupted since the beginning of February 2003, which has claimed thousands of lives. also large numbers of Region's population suffered from displacement and homelessness because of this ongoing war.

In recent years, Sudan has witnessed political, economic, and social changes rooted in the increasing public frustration at the deteriorating political situation, the economic environment in which it does not provide jobs and decent living, and the torn social climate because of civil wars and ethnic and tribal strife. Sudan Also has one of the most outstanding human rights serious violations records in the world. Supported by the country’s repressive security machinery and the government’s legal framework which does not provide any protections for the citizens. And these violations essentially include violations based on sexual orientation and / or gender identity, where there is a massive violence and oppression against sexual and gender minorities in the country; whether by the state or non-state actors. The Sudanese State not only doesn’t provide any form of protection for LGBT community members’ in Sudan, but instead it targeted members of these communities by criminalizing homosexual acts, where Sudan's criminal law for the year 1991 to criminalize consensus sexual acts between adults of the same sex. Also Sudanese criminal panel code contains loose legal articles that criminalize any behaviors or gender expressions that are not in line with the mainstream of society.

On social and legal level violence based on sexual orientation and / or gender identity is extreme. What make it worse is the Islamization of all aspects of life with more pressure on the traditional gender roles for both sexes in everyday life. The Sudanese society has perceptions about concepts such as femininity and masculinity. Almost anyone who doesn’t fit into these stereotyped perceptions has seen as a threat to the security and safety of the society as a whole. Certainly that allows the state more control over people and their everyday lives by government agencies such as the national security agency and public order police.

Since the Sudanese civil society is exposed and severely restricted, the government has dried up most of its human and material resources; the groups or individuals working on sexual and gender minorities issues are struggling to find safe and sustainable spaces to continue their struggle to defend their rights. LGBTQ activists might be subjected to harassment, intimidation and detention by government authorities because of their struggle. Therefore, the work on these issues do not receive proper attention and visibility in the Sudanese arena.

On societal level, the Islamic conservative culture, ignorance, and social preconceptions about homosexuality and transsexuality make members of Sudanese society a tool for persecution of sexual and gender minorities. They marginalize their role in the society and exclude them from public and private spheres. It is very trendy for Sudanese families to treat their sons and daughters harshly because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identities, and the level of harshness may reach a point where they disown them sometimes.

While some LGBTQ community members could leave the country in order to maintain their security and their safety and to find a better life, but many were unable to leave the country, and therefore they must withstand the physical, psychological, and emotional abuse.

Given that most Sudanese do not accept homosexuality and transsexuality and deny its presence in Sudan, LGBTQ issues are not discussed in public or even private spaces, therefore LGBTQ people in Sudan remain invisible, and their voices are not heard.

In order to fill the gap in the field of knowledge production on sexual orientation and gender identity issues in Sudan, we have combined our efforts to document the oral history of the members of LGBTQ community in Sudan by collecting their stories and photography in a booklet documenting the past of this communities and building its future.

This booklet which contains a variety of stories about LGBTQ people in Sudan who have found the courage and motivation to share their stories and their daily struggles as a minority living in a country such as Sudan; this booklet will play an important role in raising awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity issues in Sudan and will work on documenting human rights violations against LGBTQ communities in Sudan and make it available for sharing and discussion for those who are interested in supporting and advocating for these issues in the future.

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