Time to boycott Zanzibar as Tanzania threatens to ban groups that support LGBTI equality


tanzania-threatens-to-ban-groups-that-promote-lgbt-equalityAnother senior government official has lashed out at groups that lobby for the rights of LGBTI people in Tanzania, a popular holiday location for South Africans.

According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Deputy Minister for Health, Community, Development and Gender, Hamisi Kigwangala, said that the government was determined to “always protect” so-called traditional values.

“I cannot deny the presence of LGBTI people in our country and the risk they pose in fuelling the spread of HIV/AIDS but we don’t subscribe to the assertion that there’s a ‘gender continuum’,” Kigwangala said.

“We still recognise two traditional sexes and there’s nothing in between or beyond … Any effort to claim otherwise is not allowed.”

He went on to state: “Tanzania does not allow activist groups carrying out campaigns that promote homosexuality … Any attempt to commit unnatural offences is illegal and severely punished by law.”

The comments are the latest in a recent crackdown on the LGBTI community by the country’s government.

In recent weeks, Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe also said he planned to suspend the registration of NGOs that support the LGBTI community.

In July, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda announced that he would use social media to target gay people.

“If there’s a homosexual who has a Facebook account, or with an Instagram account, all those who ‘follow’ him… are just as guilty as the homosexual,” he said.

That same month, Tanzania’s Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, announced a ban on personal lubricants in a bid to stop gay people from having sex.

“I have instructed stakeholders working with gay people to remove the products from the market,” she said.

Mwalimu went on to say that money used to distribute free lube to men who have sex with men (MSM) by groups working with the community would now be used to “buy beds for the maternity wards”.

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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