A crackdown in Tanzania threatens the country's already under-siege LGBT community: At a rally in the capital city of Dodoma, Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba declared that Tanzanians campaigning for gay rights would be arrested and foreigners would be deported.
“Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things,” said Nchemba at a gathering on Sunday.
His statement follows a bizarre claim from Tanzanian president John Magufuli last week that even livestock oppose the gay community. “Those who teach such things do not like us, brothers," declared Magufuli. "They brought us drugs and homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of.”
Earlier this year, deputy health minister Hamisi Kigwangalla echoed the claim that animals reject homosexuality. ”Have you ever come across a gay goat or bird?” tweeted the 42-year-old doctor. “Homosexuality is not biological. It is unnatural.”
Of course, homosexual behavior has been recorded in hundreds of species, including birds.
Kigwangalla has called for newspapers to publish the names of gays and lesbians, and says forced anal examinations of suspected homosexuals will become more common in the country. His superior, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu, even banned the sale of lube, insisting it encouraged gay men to have sex.
Scapegoating LGBT people is a popular tactic among African governments, who blame sexual minorities for everything from the spread of AIDS to rising crime rates and faltering economies. In Tanzania, "gross indecency" between two men carries a five-year sentence, while a conviction of a sexual act "against the order of nature” can lead to up to 30 years behind bars.
There is no official punishment, however, for women who have relations with other women.
This year, the Health Ministry closed dozens of HIV/AIDS outreach clinics in Tanzania, claiming NGOs were using them to promote gay sex.
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