This past week, the Tanzanian government and the Deputy for Health, Community Development and Gender issued a threat condemning all LGBTQI equity groups in the country. All non-governmental groups seeking to progress and advocate for the community are at risk of being banned.
Sex between two people of the same gender is illegal in Tanzania, and those found guilty can face a prison sentence of up to 30 years. The Tanzanian government recently prohibited the sale of lubricants this July in an attempt to stop HIV and prevent the ‘encouragement’ of homosexuality.
Hamisi Kigwangala, the Deputy Minister responsible for issuing the statement, remarked, “We still recognize two traditional sexes and there’s nothing in between or beyond … Any effort to claim otherwise is not allowed.” He referred to campaigns promoting homosexuality as “unnatural offenses… severely punished by law”.
Kigwangala’s condemnation of LGBTQI equality groups followed Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda’s message that social media sites will be utilized as a mechanism to find and arrest gay people.
The compilation of these persecutions is creating distress among LGBTQI individuals and gay rights groups in Tanzania. Activist Nurdeen Supa, who works with the registered non-governmental group LGBT Voice of Tanzania, expressed his concern with the Thomas Rueters Foundation, “They are simply instilling fear in vulnerable people who live their lives without harming anybody.”
This human rights offense comes in the wake of the International AIDS Conference that was held in South Africa in July, of which the main topic was decreasing the stigma surrounding marginalized communities in an effort to increase access to HIV prevention and treatment.