18 February 2017

Tanzania Threatens to Publish 'Gay List'

Photo: Andy Rennie/Flickr
(file photo).

Tanzania announced plans on Saturday to publish a list of gay people allegedly selling sex online. This comes just days after the government shut down dozens of AIDS clinics accused of promoting homosexuality.

Deputy health minister, Hamisi Kigwangalla, wrote on Twitter that his government was investigating "the homosexuality syndicate" and would arrest and prosecute those involved in the gay sex business.

"I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online," Kigwangalla wrote. "Those who think this campaign is a joke, are wrong. The government has long arms and it will quietly arrest all those involved. Once arrested, they will help us find others."

Under the Tanzanian penal code, sex between two males is highly punishable, ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment. There is, however, no such ban on lesbian relations.

Compared to its neighbor Uganda, Tanzanian politicians had not been focussing much on the gay community, until the recent increase of anti-gay rhetoric by the government.

Men suspected of being gay have been detained and taken to the hospitals for an anal test to find out if they are homosexuals. On Thursday, the government announced it was stopping many private health centers from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of providing services to homosexuals.

"We have suspended the provision of HIV and AIDS services at at least 40 drop-in centers operated by NGOs countrywide, after it was established that the centers were promoting homosexuality, which is against Tanzania's laws," Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said in a press conference.

Last year, Mwalimu said it was estimated that 23 percent of men who have sex with men in Tanzania were living with HIV/AIDS.

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