…’Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country’ – says TZ Home Affairs Minister
Tanzania has launched a 17 anti-gay surveillance squad to hunt down and arrest anyone considered to be a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBTI) saying the country does not want to anger God.
The committee has been mandated to, among other things, identify gay people on social media. The task force has the authority to arrest those identified or perceived to be gay.
“I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province,” said governor of Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda while calling on citizens to begin reporting homosexuals for round-ups to begin next week.
Makonda says he was pleased with public response as thousands of people have already been reported and handed over to authorities after government ordered the public to report any person suspected of being gay.
“These homosexuals boast on social networks,” said Makonda, a fervent Christian and loyal ally of President John Magufuli.
Makonda said homosexual behaviour “tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions”.
He said he expected criticism from outsiders for his hardline stance but added: “I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
Anti-homosexual sentiment is rife in Tanzania, forcing most gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities to live in secrecy.
In Tanzania, homosexuality is illegal and anyone found guilty faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.
The country upholds provisions outlined in the Tanzania Penal Code of 1945 that states that any person who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is liable for life imprisonment or a term for at least 30 years.
Despite international condemnation, Tanzania Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said in 2017 that “those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things”.
Last year, President Magufuli said that everybody should condemn homosexuality because “even cows” disapproves of homosexuality.
Amnesty slams Tanzania
Meanwhile, local and international human rights organisations and activists have been alarmed and condemned Tanzania for the task force which they said is leading the country down a “dangerous path”.
“It is extremely regrettable that Tanzania has chosen to take such a dangerous path in its handling of an already marginalized group of people. The idea of this taskforce must be immediately abandoned as it only serves to incite hatred among members of the public” said Joan Nanyuki, Amnesty’s regional director.