Gay Tanzanians living in fear as governor launches witch-hunt

Paul Makonda tanzania

Gay people in Tanzania are terrified for their safety following Dar es Salaam governor Paul Makonda’s creation of a team to hunt them down.

Experts and activists living in the city—the country’s former capital, whose governor announced on Wednesday  that he wanted to turn into “a non-gay city”—have told PinkNews they expect the queer community to be targeted with anal testing, forced convictions and “a high level of brutal violence and harassment.”

Queer people in Tanzania also face up to life imprisonment if they are convicted of having gay sex.

Thousands of messages have already been sent to the task force of 17 people, which Makonda said included doctors who would “assess all those who will be named,” adding that “some gays are known because they walk in Pampers and offer a very fragrant odour.”

A gay man and LGBT+ activist who works in Dar es Salaam and did not want to be named warned that Makonda’s declarations should be taken literally, not just as inflammatory rhetoric.

“It is expected the arrests are going to happen,” he said, “since the police in Tanzania don’t follow the law anymore, but instead follow what politicians like Makonda say.”

Tanzania was a refuge for LGBT+ people until the last couple of years (lgbt voice tanzania/facebook)

“They don’t care even if the arrest is illegal. I was illegally arrested last year with other activists since we wanted to sue the government for illegally getting rid of drop-in centres and lubricants that were given for free as an HIV-prevention package,” Msigwa added.

“The arrest itself will be illegal, with no bail. There will be forced anal tests, like he mentioned in his declaration speech, and we expect lots of forced convictions and a high level of brutal violence and harassment.”

Mwamba Nyanda, a gay man who lives in Dar es Salaam and runs the Tanzania Trans Initiative, told PinkNews that this wasn’t the first time Makonda had threatened gay people living in the city of four million.

“He always ends up hurting people in the community,” said Nyanda. “He is insane. Makonda has a voice and people listen.”

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