10 men arrested in Tanzania for ‘being gay’

Pongwe Beach in Zanzibar, where ten men were arrested for being gay.

Ten men have reportedly been arrested in Tanzania, after police were tipped off about a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Police raided the event at Pongwe Beach on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar and detained the men on Saturday night (November 3), according to Amnesty International.

Six other people fled the scene.

Paul Makonda announced an anti-LGBT+ crackdown in Tanzania.

Paul Makonda announced the creation of a task force to hunt down gay people. (Dizzim Online/youtube)

The ten men are being held at Chakwal police station in Unguja. No charges have been made against them.

“This must not be allowed to happen—these men must be released immediately.”

LGBT+ people can face up to life imprisonment in Tanzania if convicted of having gay sex. Gay marriage is also illegal in the country.

Arrested for sitting ‘two by two’

According to Amnesty International, the men were detained for allegedly carrying out a gay marriage, with police claiming that they found the men sitting in pairs “two by two.”

Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s east Africa deputy director, called for Tanzanian authorities to release the men.

“This is a shocking blow following the Tanzanian government’s assurance that no-one would be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” the deputy director said.

“This appalling attack on Tanzanian people simply exercising their human rights shows the danger of inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric at senior levels of government.”

Magango said Amnesty International now feared that the men could be subjected to forced anal examinations.

“This must not be allowed to happen—these men must be released immediately,” added Magango.

LGBT+ people in Tanzania fear persecution

The arrests come after Paul Makonda, governor of Tanzania’s most populous city Dar es Salaam, announced the creation of a task force to crack down on LGBT+ activity in the city from November 6 onwards.

On October 29, Governor Makonda urged Dar es Salaam residents 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,” Makonda 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.”

Riot police in Tanzania.

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

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.”