The regional commissioner of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam vowed to arrest people suspected of being gay by next week. Paul Makonda, the commissioner, requested the public Monday to report names of any person suspected of being gay.
By Tuesday, he informed, 5,763 messages from the public had been received with more than 100 names.
Makonda said, “I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province. These homosexuals boast on social networks.”
According to him, gay sex “tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions.”
A 17 member task force comprising of state officials from Tanzania Communications Authority, the police and media practitioners, has also been created for the witchhunt against the LGBT community.
The team will scrutinize social media in order to track down and arrest homosexuals. Homosexuality is illegal in the African country where the crackdown on LGBT community has been increasing since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015.
LGBT people face a 30-year jail sentence under Tanzania law, due to which people have to hide their sexuality and gender identity.
In 2016, Tanzania drew sharp criticisms after Amnesty International said that the government threatened to prosecute gay rights activists and also allegedly performed anal examinations on some suspected homosexuals.
“Every gay person is living in fear. Even the parents of gay children are also living in great fear,” said Geofrey Mashala, a Tanzanian LGBT activist now living in California.
“People have become very powerful to attack people,” he said. “If you are on the bus or walk on the street and maybe two or three guys start to shout: ‘Hey, he’s a gay, he’s a gay’. Suddenly, 10 people can join these two people, or 20 people, and start attacking you on the street.”
The human rights group Equality Now said, “the governor’s statement flies in the face of human rights and violates international human rights.”