Words: Steve Brown
Ten men have been arrested in Zanzibar on suspicion of ‘being gay’ after police received a ‘tip-off’ of a same-sex marriage taking place.
On October 29 Paul Makonda, Regional Commissioner of Tanzania's largest city Dar es Salaam, announced that he was creating special squads to catch LGBT people, and encouraged citizens to report people suspected of being gay.
"Give me their names," Mr Makonda was quoted by AFP as saying. "My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday."
On Wednesday (October 31), Makonda tweeted that "more than 100 gay" people had been reported by their fellow citizens and that authorities would "take action".
Now Amnesty International have reported that ten men have been arrested in the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar after police received a tip-off that a same-sex marriage was taking place.
Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s East Africa Deputy Director, said: “This is a shocking blow following the Tanzanian government’s assurance that no one would be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This appalling attack on Tanzanian people simply exercising their human rights shows the danger of inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric at senior levels of government.
“We now fear these men may be subjected to forced anal examination, the government’s method of choice for ‘proving’ same-sex sexual activity among men. This must not be allowed to happen – these men must be released immediately.”
Police reportedly raided a party over the weekend and arrested the ten men but six others at the event managed to escape.
The arrested men are being held at Chakwal police station despite no charges having been brought against them.
According to Amnesty International, the police claim they arrested the men because they were conducting a gay marriage and were found sitting in pairs.
Magango added: “It’s mind-boggling that the mere act of sitting in a pair can assume criminal proportions.
“The police clearly have no grounds to file charges against these men in court, despite arresting them three days ago.”