South Africa: Stand in Solidarity With the Queer Community in Tanzania

Lobby group protest against anti-queer action in Tanzania.
7 December 2018 (Johannesburg)
press release

Paul Makonda, the governor of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, has deployed a surveillance squad, to track down queer people on social media. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, and anti-gay narratives have been prevalent since President John Magufuli’s instatement in 2015.

[1] Queer people have been forced to hide their identities and sexuality. Makonda made a statement saying “ I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God”, in reference to other countries anger at the current anti-queer witch hunt. So far 18000 people’s names have been handed to [2] government on suspicion of being queer. Ten men have been arrested so far on suspicion of being homosexual.[3] HIV clinics have also been shut down on the basis of “promoting homosexuality”. The situation in Tanzania has reached a crisis point. Queers are fearing for their freedom because of their identities. South Africans can not sit back and allow this anti-queer witch hunt to continue. Anti-gay rhetoric has been rife in Africa, with Uganda previously instating the death penalty for being queer. [4]

“It is a sad truth that in our nation the LGBTI community are amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised. They suffer discrimination, violence and abuse. We must as a nation do better than what we are now.’’ This is a quote from President Ramaphosa. We must hold him accountable for his commitments to queer rights by demanding he stand in solidarity with queer people in Tanzania, by condemning anti-queer action and offering safety for Tanzanians facing arrest.

Queer allies and people in South Africa, this is a call on you to stand in solidarity with queer people in Tanzania. Let us come together and put pressure on South African government, to intervene in the current situation. We understand how hard it is to be queer in a heteronormative society, we understand the pain of not being able to be ourselves. Tell South African government that it is their responsibility to stand up against the blatant abuse of the human right to be. South Africa’s constitution boasts being the most inclusive in the world, with supposed safety for queer people.

South African government, we call on you to act following the constitution and stand up against homophobia in Tanzania.

Dear President Ramaphosa,

we call on you to recognize the current situation in Tanzania, and the abuse of human rights and right to freedom. Tell governor Paul Makonda that you do not accept his behaviour, by making a public statement condemning the surveillance squad, arrests and shutting down of HIV clinics. We call on you to offer asylum to queer Tanzanians, who are in danger of their freedom being taken away from them. We call on you to act according to our constitution and your attitude of protecting queer rights in South Africa.  Show queer people in Africa you are serious about queer rights and take a stand against homophobia.

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