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Seeking to limit gay sex, Tanzania bans lubricants

Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu claims that lubricants encourage homosexuality. (Photo courtesy of Alchetron.com)
Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu claims that lubricants encourage homosexuality. (Photo courtesy of Alchetron.com)

Tanzania is cracking down on import and sales of sexual lubricants on the theory that, without them, homosexuality will decrease, Agence France-Press reports.

It’s a misguided idea that’s likely to make matters worse in the fight against HIV / Aids.

As the AIDS Foundation of Chicago states about both homosexual and heterosexual intercourse:

“Using condoms with condom-compatible lube is an important HIV prevention intervention. … Importantly, the use of condom-compatible lubricants (lube) facilitates condom use and is associated with decreased risk of male condoms breaking or slipping. Condoms simply work better in conjunctions with condom-compatible lube.”

On paper, sexual intimacy between men is punishable by up to life imprisonment in Tanzania, although that law is rarely enforced.

Agence France-Presse reported:

Dar Es Salaam — The Tanzanian government has banned imports and sales of sexual lubricants in its latest move targeting the gay community, officials say.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu justified the move on the grounds that the product encourages homosexuality, which is banned in the east African nation.

“It is true that the government has banned the importation and use of the jelly to curb the spread of HIV,” the minister told local media on Tuesday.

“It is estimated that 23 percent of men who have sex with men in Tanzania are living with HIV/AIDS,” [she] added.

“I have instructed stakeholders working with gay people to remove the products from the market.”

Paul Makonda (Photo courtesy of HIVisasa.co.tz)
Paul Makonda announced crackdown on Tanzanian gays. (Photo courtesy of HIVisasa.co.tz)

Groups working with the gay community were handing out the lube for free, the minister said.

“The ministry has agreed to work with stakeholders to give the ministry the money they were using to buy and import the lubricants so we could use it to buy beds for the maternity wards.” …

The newly appointed regional commissioner for the port city of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced a major crackdown against gay people this month, followed by arrests of suspected gays in clubs.

Some people who have been openly gay on the internet stopped posting after Makonda threatened that police would arrest those who follow them on social media.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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