A governor from the city of Dar Es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, has called for a country-wide purge of LGBT+ people.
In a speech on October 29, Paul Makonda encouraged Tanzanians to report people they perceive as members of the LGBT+ community to the authorities. Makonda has already organised for a team of guards to begin rounding people up, beginning on November 6.
Announcing the anti-gay crackdown, Makonda told reporters:
“I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province. These homosexuals boast on social networks.”
Makonda, who is an ally of the country’s president John Magufuli, encouraged Dar Es Salaam’s residents to report anyone suspected of being LGBT+:
“Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday”
In response to concerns Tanzania’s neighbouring countries will condemn the anti-gay purge, Makonda said: “I prefer to anger these countries than to anger God.”
The Dar Es Salaam governor claimed that homosexuality “tramples on the moral grounds of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions.”
The governor’s rhetoric echoes the beliefs of President Magufuli who has said that “even cows” should condemn homosexuality.
British colonial era laws criminalise homosexuality in Tanzania 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”. In the country’s region of Zanzibar, a further 20 people were arrested in a police raid for “homosexual activity”.
LGBT+ activists and allies face similar repercussions as the country criminalises anyone with “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”.
Since his election in 2015, Magufuli has threatened LGBT+ activists with deportation and imprisonment. LGBT+ activists from South Africa were forced to leave Tanzania after they advocated for marriage equality.
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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