On 29 th October 2018, The Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Paul Makonda announced plans to form a task force to identify and arrest LGBTIQ+ people in the country. This task force is expected to comprise the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, the media and the police.
According the activists on the ground, the taskforce would commence work next week identifying and arresting LGBTIQ people. Makonda also asked members of the public to report anyone they know to be LGBTIQ+ and claims to have already received over 200 names.
Following these events, Anthony Oluoch, Pan Africa ILGA’s Program Manager said: “It is sad that a section of the Tanzania society is being targeted in such a heinous way. A section that has existed in that society since time immemorial. It is the government’s duty to protect and defend the rights of every individual. This includes LGBTIQ+ people in the country who are now living in fear, not only for their security, but their lives. It is time that the society in Tanzania realize that these incredibly draconian laws being used by
Makonda to target LGBTIQ+ individuals, as has been recently demonstrated by the arrest of Amber Rutty and her partner, are not only being used to target gay people, but are a state sanctioned invasion of everyone’s privacy and what they consensually do in their own homes. This is dangerous and it affects every citizen of Tanzania.”
In a country whose record of the protection of LGBTIQ+ rights is as poor as Tanzania, this move will only increase the already egregious levels of marginalization, discrimination, violence and stigma that individuals face due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This move puts the lives of the citizens of Tanzania at risk. It completely undermines the principles of protection of every citizens rights and freedoms.
Pan Africa ILGA stands with the people of Tanzania. We strongly condemn the attack on LGBTIQ+ people in the country and call on the Tanzanian government to immediately halt this move and take measures to protect a section of the society that are already marginalized yet have an intrinsic right to exist and thrive in the country. We call on the people of Tanzania to open their eyes and see that this target on LGBTIQ+ people is only the beginning. That these laws can and will be used to invade their privacy. We also call on societies in Africa to accept and understand the many diversities that we have that make this continent a beautiful place.