Tanzania government distances itself from anti-gay purge

The government of Tanzania has attempted to distance itself from an anti-gay crackdown in the city of Dar es Salaam.

The Tanzanian foreign ministry put out the statement responding to international concerns after the governor of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, vowed to create a regional anti-gay task force.

The statement, issued November 4 on behalf of the national Tanzanian government, says: “[We wish] to clarify that Mr Makonda was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania.”

According to The Citizen, it adds: “The United Republic of Tanzania will also continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country’s constitution.”

Tanzania was a refuge for LGBT+ people until the last couple of years. (LGBT Voice Tanzania)

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania under a penal code that dates back to the British colonial era.

On October 29, Makonda vowed to turn Dar es Salaam into “a non-gay city,” calling on members of the public to submit intelligence about suspected homosexuals for the government crackdown.

Makonda, who has held his position since 2016, spoke out against “the presence of many homosexuals in our province,” telling the public: “Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them.”

The governor said he was anticipating backlash from people who lived outside Tanzania, but said that he would “prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”

LGBT+ people can face up to life imprisonment in Tanzania if convicted of having gay sex.

The US State Department issued a security alert to LGBT+ people in Tanzania on November 3.

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