A public order court in Khartoum, Sudan has begun deliberating a case of nine men who were arrested and beaten for being gay.
According to LGBT rights activists in Sudan, a private gathering of gay friends at a well-known singer’s flat was raided. Those attending were arrested and beaten by Sudanese police, leaving them badly bruised.
In the first court hearing police stated that a flat in Al-Safia neighborhood, in Khartoum, was raided after neighbors spotted and were ‘angered’ by the attire of the men.
The police said after a warrant was issued, the flat was raided by the head of Al-Safia police station along with officers and detectives.
A police officer alleged in court the singer was wearing women’s clothing and two other suspects were in their underwear.
He also said police found in the suspects’ possessions women’s dilka (body scrub), henna, face creams, coffee making utensils and a shisha pipe
Police charged the men with committing indecent acts, a charge denied by the suspects.
Judge Khalid Hamza postponed the court proceedings on Wednesday (20 February) and adjourned the session for this coming week.
The defense lawyer protested in court saying Sudanese media have been drumming up the case by printing inaccurate information and sensationally describing the private meeting as a ‘gay wedding’.
He said this has led the men to suffer further abuse in public and at the mosques, and urged the media to act responsibly and accurately report the facts.
Mohammed, chair of Rainbow Sudan’s, a magazine and organization for LGBT rights, told Gay Star News: ‘It was just a gathering of a couple of friends in a private flat, and neighbors denied to us they raised any complaints with the police.
‘This is totally violating a basic human right to privacy, police invaded a private property, arrested and beat up these men.
‘How are LGBT people in Sudan expected to feel safe at their own home?
‘Sadly this happens frequently in Sudan, and the press does their best to portray gays negatively.
‘The case is now reported as a lesson in how gay people have a "negative influence" on the public, labeling us as immoral transgressors.’
Ali, head of the LGBT advocacy group Freedom Sudan, told GSN: ‘What was not reported in the press is the police ambushed them in the apartment complex.
‘I am also not sure the report of what was found at the singer’s home is true or just dreamt up to further “incriminate” the men. Suspects explicitly denied having the items in their possession.
‘This unfortunately is not the first of such cases in Sudan, and sentences regularly include lashes, imprisonment and sometimes capital punishment.
‘Even if the men will get off “lightly” with lashes, none of them will be able to have a life anymore.
‘They will be dismissed from their jobs, ostracized from their families and communities and expected to hide away from public in shame.
‘Shaming one’s family or community can have you murdered in Sudan.
‘We are trying to help them in everyway we can now. I contacted the UN and HRC and hoping for a positive reply. Not just for them not but also for the future cases’.
Sudan is one of the strictest countries in the world which criminalize homosexuality. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and, according to Article 148, capital punishment applies to a man or woman engaging in such acts.
Punishments ranges from lashes and imprisonment to the death sentence.