7 November 2018

Tanzania: No Group Is Under Siege, Tanzania Is Safe - Lugola

THOUGH homosexuality and same sex marriages remain illegal in Tanzania, lives of those involved in the unlawful acts are not at risk and are not fleeing the country as claimed by some sections of the international media.

The Minister of Home Affairs Mr Kangi Lugola, yesterday, said he had not received any complaints regarding threats to any section of the community.

He said that those who received threats should have reported to the police stations near their residential areas.

The Minister's statement came after complaints in a video clip that is circulating on social media, showing an interview of the US-based broadcasting corporation RTE News and the Media Coordinator of the Front Line Defenders, Ms Erin Kilbride, who said she has received complaints from those involved in homosexual acts that they are being threatened.

Ms Kilbride's complaints came following the campaign that was initiated by the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, to arrest people who have been engaging in same sex acts in Dar es Salaam.

The campaign resulted in high tension among members of the public, some activists from outside the country with many complaining on how the issue was handled.

"Earlier, he demanded the public to contribute by calling or texting him names of the people they believe to be engaged in homosexual and sex workers' groups," she said adding, "But they are targeting those people who are suspected to belong to this group by going to their homes and harassing them."

She went on to explain that the gays are now crossing the border to other countries where they feel more secure.

Speaking to the Daily News's sister paper Habari Leo newspaper, Mr Lugola assured that there were no threats regarding security of any group in the country, insisting there were no indicators that threatened security of people in the country.

"I have not received any concern about safety of these people, and from any police station either, complaining about their security," said the Minister. He also declined the reports that the group is leaving the country due to the threats.

"What I say is that, Tanzania is safe and secure, no one can say the country is unsafe without concrete evidence, as Minister responsible for Home Affairs, I don't have such information on my table," he added.

Commenting on the legal aspect, lawyers say the law provides that whoever performs same sex acts whether willingly or by force, has committed an offence.

"And, they will be punished according to the law of the land," says the State Attorney Mr Patrick Mwita, who cited the section 154 of the Tanzanian Penal Code of the year 2002.

Also, Section 154 (2) of the same law provides that "Where the offence under subsection (1) of this section is committed to a child under the age of ten years the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment".

He said, earlier the punishment was issued under the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act (SOSPA) that was enacted in 1998, but later on it was amended into the Penal code.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation said the campaign that was initiated by Mr Makonda wasn't the government's stand but 'his personal opinion'.

In a press conference last week, Mr Makonda announced a task-force to deal with those who are involved and promoting prostitution and same sex acts.

According to him, the team was to start work on Monday November 4 arresting those who were to be reported.

On its statement, the foreign ministry said, "On behalf of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, we clarify that Mr Makonda was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania," said the statement.

Adding, "Tanzania will also continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country's constitution."

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