The governor for Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania has revealed that he plans to subject LGBT+ people to forced conversion therapy in the country’s anti-gay crackdown.
Makonda outlined his plans while speaking to Voice of America’s Swahili Service, wherein he stated that he plans on “curing” the LGBT+ people who have been reported to police. Makonda claimed that he has a team of doctors and psychologists who will provide gay conversion therapy to people suspected as being members of the LGBT+ community.
The practice of gay conversion therapy has been completely disavowed by a number of medical organisations, including the NHS, the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The three medical bodies released a statement in 2014, which labelled the practice as “potentially harmful” and “unethical”.
Last week, Makonda encouraged Tanzanian people to report their LGBT+ relatives to the authorities as part of a country-wide anti-gay crackdown. Up to 10,000 people have been reported, while the governor revealed on Twitter that 100 people have already been taken into custody.
In spite of this, the Tanzanian government has issued a statement distancing themselves from Makonda’s rhetoric. A spokesperson released a statement on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation’s website confirming that Makonda’s statement reflects his personal opinion and not that of the government’s. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the Tanzanian government would “continue to respect all international agreements on human rights that have been signed and ratified”.
Despite this clarification, LGBT+ people continue to face widespread persecution in Tanzania. British colonial era laws criminalise homosexuality so LGBT+ people are forced to hide their identities. Men who have sex with other men may face life sentences in prison. 12 men were arrested in Dar Es Salaam last year after they were accused of engaging in gay sex and “promoting homosexuality”.
Additionally, health centres in Tanzania are no longer legally allowed to treat people with HIV and AIDS, as the government claims HIV services “cater to homosexuals”. It is estimated that up to 33,000 Tanzanians died as a result of AIDS related illnesses in 2016.
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