Homosexuality, human rights abuses cost Tanzania over $300 million

Tanzania President Magufuli

Tanzania has this week lost close to $310 million (K224 billion) due to government related human rights violations. The amount is almost a quarter of Malawi’s national budget.

Denmark and World Bank respectively announced this week that they were cutting aid to Tanzania citing allegations of human rights abuses.

Danish Development minister Ulla Tornaes announced Denmark will be withholding US$9.8m (K7.1billion) in aid to Tanzania following anti-gay comments made by Dar es Salaam governor that he was setting up an anti-homosexuality task-force to track down and arrest those suspected of being gay.

Tornae said she her government was “very concerned” by what she described as the “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a Tanzanian government official.

While the Bretton Woods Institution announced a day prior to Danish aid cut that $300 million meant as an educational loan would be suspended following Tanzania’s decision to ban pregnant girls from going to school.

The Bank  has also suspended visiting missions to the East African nation due to the crackdown on homosexuals.

Last month, Paul Makonda, commissioner for the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, called on the public to report suspected gay men to the police.

While the Tanzanian government said, at the time, that Makonda was expressing his personal opinion and not that of government policy, homosexuality remains illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 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.

Anti-homosexual sentiment is rife in Tanzania, forcing most gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities to live in secrecy.

Last year, Tanzania President John Magufuli said homosexuality must be condemned because “even cows” disapproves of the act.

Local and international human rights organisations and activists continue to condemn Tanzania for its homophobic stance.

“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” Joan Nanyuki, Amnesty’s regional director said of plans by Dar es Salaam’s governor to set up the anti-gay task force.

Last week, ten men were arrested on suspicion of being gay on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar after police received a “tip-off” from members of the public about a same-sex marriage taking place.