Tanzania’s Government encourages the mass arrests of LGBTQ People

Tanzania’s Government encourages the mass arrests of LGBTQ People

Life just got a lot harder for LGBTQ people in Tanzania’s largest city.

Paul Makonda (pictured above), the governor of Dar es Salaam, announced on Monday that police would begin mass arrests of queer and transgender people. In a news conference, Makonda claimed he had received “reports that there are so many homosexuals in our city… advertising and selling their services on the internet.”

“These homosexuals boast on social networks,” the governor said.

“Therefore, I am announcing this to every citizen of Dar es Salaam: If you know any gays, report them to me,” he added in a speech broadcast over social media.

Authorities in the populous city of 4.3 million will begin rounding up queer and trans people on Monday, Makonda said. Officials have reportedly already begun creating a database of hundreds of Tanzanians alleged to be LGBTQ, many of whom could now face prosecution.

A charge of “gross indecency between persons” in the East African nation carries a maximum sentence of life in prison under the Tanzania Penal Code of 1945.

The governor said a 17-member task force will be combing the social media accounts of suspected queer and trans people looking for “evidence” they had violated the colonial-era sodomy law, a remnant of British occupation. Officials appointed to the task force will consist of representatives from the Tanzania Communications Authority and local police.

Makonda encouraged members of the public to come forward with any information which might assist the surveillance team in detaining LGBTQ people. He said authorities had already received more than 18,000 messages alleging violations of the sodomy law.

Amnesty International released a statement condemning this anti-LGBTQ crackdown.

“It is extremely regrettable that Tanzania has chosen to take such a dangerous path in its handling of an already marginalized group of people,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, in a Thursday press release. “The idea of this taskforce must be immediately abandoned as it only serves to incite hatred among members of the public. LGBTQ people in Tanzania already face discrimination, threats, and attacks without hateful statements of this kind.

“The Tanzanian government must also ensure that no one, especially those in positions of power like Paul Makonda, makes statements or takes actions to sow hatred that endangers the lives of people just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The government has a duty to protect everyone in Tanzania and uphold their human rights without discrimination. They must take this obligation seriously and not initiate programs or use government agencies to rob LGBTI people of their rights.”

In 2017, Amnesty International released a report condemning what it called “an unprecedented crackdown” on queer and transgender people in Tanzania. Authorities have threatened to publish names of individuals believed to be LGBTQ and to deport advocates working on behalf of gender and sexual minorities.

In addition, the government shut down an estimated 40 HIV/AIDS clinics in the country, accusing them of promoting homosexuality. Many of those resource centers have continued to operate underground.

Most famously, Tanzania banned the sale of anal lubricants in 2016 to prevent gay men from having sex.

Makonda predicted his internment campaign would not be received well by foreign leaders and international human rights groups but said he wasn’t concerned about the backlash. “I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God,” he claimed.

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  1. Delle
    November 02, 09:24 Reply

    Sometimes I wonder if these countries do not have TVs or Radios through which they get to listen to the development and progress of some other countries around them and beyond.

    This is pathetic.

  2. Bee
    November 02, 10:14 Reply

    A lot of homophobes are animals. They’ve been conditioned to be animals, and they do not know much else. (No, I’m not being insulting; I meant that metaphorically.) So, when they act on their “instinct”, a soft remark of disapproval like Amnesty International’s will only serve to extract one or two hisses from them. No work done.

    We aren’t doing enough. Our bodies are doing and have done great work, but they aren’t doing enough. *WE* aren’t doing enough. These homophobes have so-called value systems, and those systems are averse to the accommodation (or even cognizance) of external ideologies. We, as individuals, need to work on teaching the people around us the meaning of open-mindedness, of tolerance; probably to people who are unaware of our sexual orientations and gender identity. And, we need to be intentional and aggressive about this. They outnumber us, they do not understand us and they do not want to understand us. We have to teach them, first, how and why to understand people who are different from them.

    Please, stop replying with soft comments [but still know when arguments become futility]. Soft comments don’t even poke beasts and it’s the beasts we’re up against now. We might not win in a 100 years but we should still push with all the mettle we can muster.

  3. Canis VY Majoris
    November 02, 12:08 Reply

    We may be aloof to these Tanzanian plague but the effects on its LGBTQA populace is very real and detrimental.

    I experienced it with a friend who’s Tanzanian. The last time we spoke he told he has found Jesus and renounced his sexuality as a gay man. I still say a little prayer for him and hope he finds peace.

    • Delle
      November 02, 13:10 Reply


      Praying for someone that claims to have found Jesus ???

  4. mikkiyfab
    November 02, 15:33 Reply

    African government and their misplaced priorities
    seriously this is the height of their stupidity

  5. J
    November 03, 09:48 Reply

    This is the best period to run to gay friendly countries and leave the crazy hateful homophobes! He looks too civilised to be this ignorant! What is about homosexuality that people so much dislike?

  6. Dan
    November 03, 12:50 Reply

    One of his gay Ex’s threat to out him.

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