Tanzania’s increasingly homophobic government has ordered three men who are said to be gay to report to the police.
The BBC reported that Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla accused the men of “spreading” homosexual activity through social media.
If they did not hand themselves in for questioning, they would be arrested, said Kigwangalla.
Neither the names of the men nor further details have been reported but the news is unsurprising and follows a recent crackdown against the LGBT community in the country.
In November last year, the health ministry said it had blocked HIV programmes targeting men who have sex with men (MSM) as it feared that the programmes were “normalising same-sex relationships”.
An earlier statement by Kigwangalla claimed: “We have information that some NGOs have been implementing programmes ‘in the name of HIV/AIDS response in the LGBTI people’ and went beyond their scope, in fact they have been promoting homosexuality.”
In July, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu also banned personal lubricants from being distributed to gay and bisexual men in a misguided attempt to stop them from having sex.
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.
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.