Now Tanzania also ends vital HIV programmes targeting gay men

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu

Tanzania’s embarrassing excuse for a health ministry has announced that it has blocked HIV programmes targeting men who have sex with men.

“We have suspended MSM (men who have sex with men) community-based interventions pending (a) review,” Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

According to Reuters, she justified the move by claiming that she had received reports that some of the initiatives were “promoting and normalising same-sex relationships”.

MSM are recognised as being among the most at risk populations for HIV infection, and services targeting this group are considered vital in stemming the spread of the virus.

The move is among a spate of recent government attacks on the LGBT community in a misguided effort to protect “traditional values”.

In July, the same deeply irresponsible minister also banned personal lubricants to stop gay men from having sex.

Mwalimu confirmed an end to the import and sale of the products because, she claimed, they encourage homosexuality.

She went on to say that money used to distribute free lube to MSM by groups working with the community would now be used to “buy beds for the maternity wards”.

Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe has also announced that he intends to suspend the registration of NGOs that support the LGBTI community.

Sex acts between men are illegal in Tanzania and carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. While sex acts between women are not specifically banned in most of the country, they are illegal on the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar and are punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

In the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 95 percent of Tanzanians said that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

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