TREADING IN THE SHADOWS: GAY PERSECUTION IN TANZANIA

Written by Julian Sng

A shroud of fear has been cast over Tanzania’s towering coastal city of Dar es Salaam. Paul Makonda, the regional governor of the rapidly developed city, has set up an anti-LGBT taskforce last month. Demanding for the identities of LGBT persons and their arrests, Makonda’s enforcement of Tanzania’s anti-homosexuality laws in Dar es Salaam follows the recent spate of LGBT clampdowns by its African neighbours – Egypt, Malawi and Uganda. Often backed by conservative religiosity, Makonda’s threats against the LGBT community have seen the closure of several HIV clinics and harassment of LGBT rights activists in Tanzania. Yet, the controversial move by the regional governor lacks open support (or criticism) from Tanzania’s central government amidst mounting international pressure against LGBT discrimination. Tanzania, after all, continues to receive a significant amount of financial aid from countries such as Canada and US. It is anybody’s guess on how long it’ll take for the LGBT community to be safe in coming out – once again – from hiding.

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