Media sources reported on Monday, June 26, that the Tanzanian interior minister threatened to arrest and/or deport all people campaigning for gay interests in the country while vowing to deregister any organization that supports homosexuality. His comments come less than a week after President John Magufuli decried NGOs that campaign for gay rights in Tanzania, saying they should be suppressed even if doing so causes a backlash against the country that leads to a loss of foreign aid.
The increase in anti-gay government rhetoric comes amid recent reports that dozens of men suspected to be gay have been detained, taken to a hospital, and forced to undergo anal exams. The government also recently banned the import and sale of sexual lubricants in the country on the grounds that they encourage homosexuality which they claim led to the spread of HIV/Aids. Additionally, in February 2017 the government announced it was prohibiting many private clinics accused of serving homosexuals from providing HIV/Aids-related health services.
Gay male sex is punishable by up to 30 years in prison under Tanzanian law - there is no similar ban on female homosexual intercourse. However, politicians generally ignored the gay community until a recent increase in the government's anti-gay rhetoric. In July 2016, the regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam announced a crackdown on gay men, leading to several arrests in clubs.
Homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 African countries and remains punishable by death in some countries.
Individuals present in Tanzania are advised to maintain a low profile and to be aware of local laws and cultural norms.
On a separate note, the majority of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the eastern province of Kigoma (along the Burundian border) due to an unstable political and health environment, as well as to the Rwandan border (Kagera province).
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