Tanzanian officials are attempting to ban the import and sale of lube amid a crackdown on the LGBT+ community.
Reports suggest that the Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said the ban was justified because the product “encourages homosexuality”.
Same-sex sexual activity between men can be punished with life imprisonment. Lesbian sex is currently not mentioned in penal codes.
According to the Lebanon Daily Star, the Minister said: “It is true that the government has banned the importation and use of the jelly to curb the spread of HIV. I have instructed stakeholders working with gay people to remove the products from the market.”
The minister added that stakeholders, who had been purchasing lubricants to give to the gay community, should give the money to the ministry instead to put towards maternity ward beds.
Police in Tanzania were in recent years accused of human rights violations against LGBT+ citizens, and of sexually assaulting people.
A man who was trying to organise a health seminar for gay and bisexual men was arrested, beaten and detained for two days. When he sought medical treatment, the hospital told him that he must first get a form from the police to show that he was a victim of assault – but the police refused.
The police have a duty to protect such vulnerable people, not expose them to hatred and bigotry, Human Rights Watch said.