Tanzania launches crackdown on LGBT activists

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Tanzania has launched yet another crackdown on LGBT advocates in the country, threatening to arrest and expel them from the country.

The Home Affairs Minister, Mwigulu Nchemba, announced that domestic and foreign campaigners for gay rights would face criminal repercussions.

Tanzania launches crackdown on LGBT activists
Mwigulu Nchemba (Photo from Creative Commons)

In a statement he gave at a fundraising ceremony in the capital, Dodoma, the minister said that those who want to campaign for LGBT rights should leave Tanzania.

“Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things,” Nchemba said.

He went on to stress that the country would be pursuing legal action.

“If we establish that any organisation registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights, I will deregister that organisation.

“If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country.”

He added that if LGBT rights campaigners were using the guise of human rights then they too would have to face the authorities.

“I would like to use this opportunity to remind and warn all organisations and institutions that campaign and pretend to protect homosexual interests, that we are going to arrest whoever is involved and charge them in courts of law.”

“If we find a foreigner conducting this campaign, he or she will be deported within no time.

“They will not have even the time to unplug their mobile phones from the socket,” he warned.

Homosexual activity is illegal in the country and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The crackdown comes after Tanzanian President John Magufuli condemned homosexuals and pregnant teenage girls in the country.

The president has been criticised for kerbing political activity – something which people deem “increasingly authoritarian”.

Tanzania recently threatened to publish a list of gay people who are allegedly selling sex online.

Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla announced the plan as part of the same government crack down on “the homosexuality syndicate”.

“I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter. “Those who think this campaign is a joke are wrong. The government has long arms and it will arrest all those involved quietly.”

They have since backed down on the threats and insisted that they would “deal with this issue differently”.

Kigwangalla confirmed on Twitter: “For strategic reasons and to avoid destroying evidence we will deal with this issue differently and will keep you informed at every step.”

He also said that releasing the names would be akin to “freeing a devil in a bottle.”

Earlier this year the country stopped 40 privately run clinics from providing HIV-related services because they “cater to homosexuals”.