LGBT+ activists arrested in Tanzania for “promoting homosexuality”

Despite a lack of charges, 13 activists have been arrested and detained without cause.

This incident is one of many attempts by Tanzania to crack down on homosexual activity.

Only last month did a similar arrest occur, with 20 individuals being brought in under suspicion of homosexuality.

This group of 13, made up of activists and lawyers, were fighting to change Tanzania’s ban on drop-in centres that serve communities at risk of contracting HIV, and a similarly discriminatory ban on water based lubricant used to help prevent the spread of the virus.

These services had previously been provided by the government, but had been restricted to hinder what they view as the spreading of homosexuality.

The Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) as well as Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) met in a legal consultation to discuss action against these bans, which are directly harmful to not only the LGBT+ community, but to anyone at risk of contracting HIV.

The groups were gathered with the hope of bringing this case before the government, but they were interrupted by a police raid ending in the unlawful arrest of the thirteen individuals.

Photo: Tanzanian President, John Magufuli

In Tanzania, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is outlawed, but to exercise authoritative force against a legal meeting about health services signifies a critical violation against human rights in the country.

The lawyers and activists have still not been charged of any crime and continue to be contained without bail while investigations proceed.

Earlier this year Tanzania’s Deputy Health Minister, Hamisi Kigwangalla, threatened to publish a list of gay people, as well as arrest and prosecute those who advertise gay sex online.

In an utterly bizarre statement back in June, Tanzania’s President, John Magufuli, claimed that cows – yes, cows – are against LGBT+ people.

Tanzania has become one of the most dangerous places in the world to be LGBT+.

LGBT+ people can be imprisoned from anything between five to 30 years if they are caught having same-sex relations, while earlier this year the Health Ministry closed a number of HIV/AIDS clinics in the country as they claimed they were being used to promote gay sex.

Words Kevin Kissane

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