The reported “thousands” of LGBT citizens in Tanzania are now going into hiding or fleeing their homes after the regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam said that anyone who is identified as LGBT would be arrested starting Monday, November 5. If arrested, someone could be sentenced to jail for as long as 30 years, detailed RTE.
The commissioner, Paul Makonda, is relying on the law which says that it’s illegal to have gay sex, but it appears that it was never enforced with such force before. One man, Nathan, reported that there’s fear among the LGBT community.
“Since Monday, I have left my place and have been moving here and there. I am always looking over my shoulder in case they coming for me. There’s so much tension within the gay community at the moment. Not just in Dar, but all over the country. We are really scared. We don’t know what to do and where to go.”
Nathan also revealed that gays have already been arrested, and “homes were already being raided.” Unfortunately, the public seems to be aiding the commissioner in his aim to arrest LGBT people, as he claimed that a tip line has received 5,700 messages and 100 names of suspected LGBT people.
The homophobic sentiments seemed to have risen after President John Magufuli came into power in 2015.
Video of Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, asking Tanzanians to report to him about alleged gays within three days. Says he has received reports of gays using social media to 'advertise' themselves. pic.twitter.com/dqH7NRNtSN— DENIS NZIOKA (@DenisNzioka) October 29, 2018
The new crackdown will reportedly employ a 17-member committee, which will also include the use of social media to identify those from the LGBT community.
An activist confirmed the reports of gays being arrested already, detailed The Guardian.
“He is still in custody, but I don’t know what’s going on because no one can go to the police station to find out,” he said. “The harassment he will face from the police – I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it will be for him.”
The same activist even revealed that sometimes, the authorities will tell men that “This one is gay, you can do anal sex with them because he enjoys it in the streets.” It appears that he experienced this first-hand, but said that he was not raped during a six-day stint during police custody. Another activist for Front Line Defenders said that two out of 80 people interviewed said they had been sexually assaulted or raped by police while they were in their custody.
A Tanzanian governor has announced the creation of a surveillance squad dedicated to hunting down gay people.Paul Makonda, governor Dar es Salaam, said round-ups would begin next week.The team will scrutinise social media in order to track down and arrest gay people pic.twitter.com/pJ5BqXbHSx— African Curators (@AfricanCurators) October 31, 2018
And as the crackdown starts, people are reportedly going to hotels instead of staying at home, which is quickly depleting their accounts.
Meanwhile, LGBT activists elsewhere are condemning the act, saying it’s a violation of human rights and also international human rights.