Words: Steve Brown
A Tanzanian minister has said gay people are not under threat despite 10 men being subjected to anal examinations.
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.
On Wednesday (31 October), Makonda tweeted that “more than 100 gay” people had been reported by their fellow citizens and that authorities would “take action”.
Just last week, Amnesty International reported that ten men were arrested in the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar after police received a tip-off that a same-sex marriage was taking place.
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 were held at Chakwal police station despite no charges having been brought against them.
The men were then subjected to physical, anal examinations and Makonda was reported saying: “We will assess all those who will be named by our physicians.
“Some gays are known because they walk in Pampers and offer a very fragrant odour.”
According to Amnesty International, the police claim they arrested the men because they were conducting a gay marriage and were found sitting in pairs.
However just days after their arrests, Interior Minister of Tanzania Alphaxard Kangi Ndege Lugola told newspaper Habari Leo: “Tanzania is safe and no one can say it is unsafe without having the same criteria – if anybody is threatened for his life, then he should go to the police and I have no received any information from the police explaining the vulnerability of the people.”
Lugola then did a complete U-turn on his comments while in Parliament just two days after saying: “Tanzania is not the right place for such acts; we will never allow such things to happen.
“We have laws that forbid such things.”
It’s worth noting that while the Tanzanian constitution explicitly protects characteristics including sex, race and religion, sexual orientation is not mentioned.
Homosexuality is illegal across Tanzania, with same-sex sexual relations between men are punishable with up to 30 years in prison.