A heterosexual Tanzanian couple have been arrested on suspicion of homosexuality because one of the partners is a transgender man.
Erasing 76 Crimes reports that news of the January 12 arrest of trans man Maua Sadick, 24, and his partner Lucy Fred, 23, was splashed on the front page of the Swahili-language tabloid Uwazi, with the headline “Beautiful girls arrested for homosexuality.”
Neither the publication nor the authorities appear to recognise Sadick’s trans status and instead view her as lesbian. (It is not uncommon in some African countries for trans people to seen as homosexuals.)
According to the tabloid, the couple, who live near Dar es Salaam, were reported to the police by neighbours who suspected that they were in a same-sex relationship or marriage.
They were detained for two days before being released and are now awaiting the finalisation of a police investigation on whether they should be prosecuted.
Gay male sex is illegal in Tanzania, with penalties of 30 years to life imprisonment. It is unclear if this extends to lesbian sex, although this is specified as illegal in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar.
Attempting to conduct a same-sex marriage or same-sex people living as a couple are also outlawed in Zanzibar, leading to seven years in prison.