Tanzania loses millions of dollars in aid over gay witch-hunt


Paul Makonda (Pic: Facebook)

Denmark, said to be Tanzania’s second biggest donor, is halting aid to the country in response to its anti-gay crackdown.

On Wednesday, Danish Development Minister Ulla Tornaes tweeted: “Very concerned about the negative development in Tanzania. Most recently, unacceptable homophobic statements by a Commissioner.”

She continued: “I have therefore decided to withhold DKK 65 million [around $10 million] in the country. Respect for human rights is crucial for DK [Denmark].”

Late last month, the Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced that he had set up a task force to target LGBTQ people in the region. He also called on the public to turn in those they suspected of being homosexual.

According to DK, Tornaes has also postponed a planned trip to Tanzania. “There is a need to review Denmark’s commitment in Tanzania,” she added.

After Makonda’s announcement, ten men were arrested at a party in Zanzibar on 3 November. They were accused of taking part in a same-sex wedding. Police also noted that they were sitting in pairs “two by two”.

The men were later released on bail, but police said they were continuing their investigation and the individuals remain at risk of being rearrested.

Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has issued a statement distancing itself from Makonda’s plans but did not say it would put a stop to them. One LGBTIQ activist has dismissed this as an attempt to convince tourists to continue to visit Tanzania and told MambaOnline that “the crackdown remains.”

Under colonial-era legislation, sex between people of the same sex is illegal in Tanzania and carries prison sentences including the maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.

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