Tanzania anti-gay hunt: US warns American citizens over crackdown

The US Embassy in Tanzania has advised American citizens in the country to review their social media profiles, after a governor announced a crackdown on homosexuality in the city of Dar es Salaam.

In a security alert issued on Saturday (November 3), the embassy issued a three-point action plan to its LGBT+ citizens living in Tanzania, including to “remove or protect images” on social media that “run afoul” with the country’s ban on homosexuality.

It said that citizens should “employ sound security practices,” such as “monitoring local and international news.”

Dar es Salaam’s governor Paul Makonda announced a crackdown on gay people. (Dizzim Online/youtube)

The embassy added that Americans should ask Tanzanian authorities for the US embassy to be alerted if they are requested.

Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Tanzanian officials are required to alert the US Embassy if they arrest American citizens.

However, the security alert noted, “this is not consistently done.”

On October 29, Paul Makonda, the governor of Dar es Salaam, announced the creation of a task force to crack down on LGBT+ activity in the city from November 6 onwards.

He urged the residents in Tanzania’s most populous city to report any information on LGBT+ residents to authorities.

“Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday,” Salaam said in a declaration.

Makonda, who has held his position since 2016, added: “I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province.

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

MWEMBE MAKUMBI, TANZANIA, UNITED REPUBLIC OF: Tanzianian riot police patrol 24 October 2005 outside the hall where Zanzibar President Amani Abedi Karume addresses a rally of the Tanzanian Revolutionary party in Mwembe Makumbi, 15 km north of Stone Town in Zanzibar. Zanzibar will elect 30 October its own president and parliament in Tanzania's national elections. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Tanzianian riot police. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

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

Experts and activists living in the city—the country’s former capital—have told PinkNews that they expect the queer community to be targeted with anal testing, forced convictions and “a high level of brutal violence and harassment.”

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

“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.”