Tan­za­ni­ans urged to in­form on gay friends

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - Adrian Blom­field

Res­i­dents in Tan­za­nia’s big­gest city have been urged to in­form on neigh­bours and friends in a po­lice op­er­a­tion to hunt down and jail ho­mo­sex­u­als.

A 17-mem­ber com­mit­tee ap­pointed by Paul Makonda, Dar es Salaam’s pow­er­ful re­gional com­mis­sioner, will at­tempt to iden­tify all gay men liv­ing in the coastal city af­ter it first con­venes next Mon­day.

Makonda, a close ally of Tan­za­nia’s pres­i­dent, John Magu­fuli, said a list of 200 sus- pects had al­ready been drawn up thanks to pub­lic tip-offs and a trawl through Tan­za­ni­ans’ so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

“I have in­for­ma­tion about the pres­ence of many ho­mo­sex­u­als in our prov­ince,” he said. “These ho­mo­sex­u­als boast on so­cial net­works. Give me their names. My ad hoc team will be­gin to get their hands on them next Mon­day.”

Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is not strictly il­le­gal in Tan­za­nia. Sodomy, how­ever, car­ries a sen­tence of be­tween 30 years and life in prison, while other sex­ual acts be­tween con­sent­ing men also carry jail terms.

Tan­za­nia was seen un­til re­cently as more tol­er­ant of ho­mo­sex­u­als than neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, but the at­mos­phere has chilled since Magu­fuli be­came pres­i­dent in 2015.

Last year Magu­fuli closed Aids clin­ics, ac­cus­ing them of pro­mot­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Makonda, a de­vout Chris­tian who has long railed against gay Tan­za­ni­ans, is one of the coun­try’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures. Ac­knowl­edg­ing the po­ten­tial for a back­lash from the West, if ho­mo­sex­u­als are de­tained en masse, Makonda said: “I pre­fer to anger these coun­tries than to anger God.”

Tan­za­nia re­ceives large sums in aid from coun­tries such as Bri­tain.

The clam­p­down comes af­ter the ar­rest on Thurs­day of Zitto Kabwe, ar­guably the coun­try’s best known op­po­si­tion leader, af­ter he ac­cused se­cu­rity forces of killing as many as 100 peo­ple in clashes with cat­tle herders in Tan­za­nia’s west. Kabwe was denied bail and is be­ing held in cus­tody.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.