Of­fi­cials or­der phys­i­cal ex­ams of 10 al­leged gays

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD -

ZANZ­IBAR, Tan­za­nia — Tan­za­nian au­thor­i­ties are car­ry­ing out phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions on 10 men sus­pected of ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tiv­ity in Zanz­ibar, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

A wave of ar­rests of gays in Tan­za­nia is feared af­ter a se­nior of­fi­cial urged the pub­lic to re­port sus­pected ho­mo­sex­u­als to au­thor­i­ties. Ho­mo­sex­ual acts are il­le­gal in Tan­za­nia and can bring a sen­tence of up 30 years.

The ex­am­i­na­tions are tak­ing place Fri­day to see if there are any signs of same-sex re­la­tions among the men, who were ar­rested last week on sus­pi­cion of cel­e­brat­ing a gay mar­riage at a re­sort ho­tel, said po­lice chief of the south re­gion of Zanz­ibar, Suleiman Has­san.

“We acted on a tip-off from a good ci­ti­zen lead­ing them to abort their party dur­ing the week­end and then po­lice made a quick ar­rest,” Has­san said. Af­ter be­ing held for sev­eral days, the men have been re­leased pend­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, he said.

Last week Paul Makonda, the ad­min­is­tra­tive chief of Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia’s largest city, urged cit­i­zens to re­port any sus­pected ho­mo­sex­u­als. He said a task force would be es­tab­lished to seek out and pun­ish ho­mo­sex­u­als and pros­ti­tutes. Days later Tan­za­nia’s for­eign min­istry said Makonda’s state­ment did not rep­re­sent gov­ern­ment pol­icy but many gays in this East African coun­try say they are fright­ened.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional warned against the ex­am­i­na­tions of the men who were ar­rested.

“We now fear th­ese men may be sub­jected to forced anal ex­am­i­na­tion, the gov­ern­ment’s method of choice for ‘prov­ing’ same-sex sex­ual ac­tiv­ity among men,” said Seif Ma­gango, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s East Africa Deputy Di­rec­tor.

“This ap­palling at­tack on Tan­za­nian peo­ple sim­ply ex­er­cis­ing their hu­man rights shows the dan­ger of in­flam­ma­tory and dis­crim­i­na­tory rhetoric at se­nior lev­els of gov­ern­ment,” said Ma­gango.

The U.S. State Depart­ment on Fri­day said it is “deeply con­cerned over es­ca­lat­ing at­tacks and leg­isla­tive ac­tions by the gov­ern­ment of Tan­za­nia that vi­o­late civil lib­er­ties and hu­man rights, cre­at­ing an at­mos­phere of vi­o­lence, in­tim­i­da­tion, and dis­crim­i­na­tion. We are trou­bled by the con­tin­ued ar­rests and ha­rass­ment of marginal­ized per­sons, in­clud­ing les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple, and oth­ers who seek to ex­er­cise their rights to free­dom of speech, as­so­ci­a­tion and assem­bly. Leg­is­la­tion is be­ing used to re­strict civil lib­er­ties for all.”

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