Tanzania: 12 arrests for allegedly 'promoting homosexuality'

Lazaro Mambosasa, police chief of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of Swahili Times)
Lazaro Mambosasa, police chief of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of Swahili Times)

The arrest of about 12 men on homosexuality charges in Dar es Salaam is the latest human rights violation perpetrated as part of Tanzania’s ongoing anti-gay crackdown.  They were accused of “promoting homosexuality,” but the actual circumstances of the arrests were unknown. Last month, 20 people were arrested on similar charges in the middle of a training session about how to fight HIV/AIDS.

Agence France-Presse reported:

Tanzanian police said Wednesday they had arrested 12 men, including two South Africans and a Ugandan, for presumed homosexuality as part of an ongoing crackdown against gays. [But later, on Oct. 20, activists said that a total of 13 people were arrested, including three lawyers and their clients. See “Tanzania cries ‘homosexuality’ to block health-care lawsuit.”]

“We arrested the criminals at (the hotel) Peacock – they were promoting homosexuality. Two are South Africans, one Ugandan and nine Tanzanians,” Dar es Salaam police head Lazaro Mambosasa said at a weekly press conference.

Peacock Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Peacock Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Photo courtesy of CorcoranProductions.com)

He said the 12 were being questioned ahead of being sent to a court and did not say when they had been arrested.

“Tanzania law forbids this act between people of the same sex, it is a violation of our country’s laws,” said Mambosasa. He added the hotel manager was among those arrested for “providing a room” for the others.

Mambosasa urged citizens to notify authorities if they caught wind of such activities “so we can act in time”.

Police made 20 arrests – eight men and 12 women – on similar grounds on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago Zanzibar last month.

According to police, those arrests took place in a hotel where the group were undergoing training with an officially registered international NGO, the Bridge Initiative, which works in Aids awareness.

In February, Tanzania earned criticism notably from the United States after announcing the closure of several health centres specialising in Aids prevention, alleging they were fronts for promoting homosexuality.

The Dar es Salaam government also vowed to deport foreigners campaigning for gay rights.

Gay male sex is punishable by anything from 30 years to life imprisonment under Tanzanian law. There is no such ban on lesbian relations.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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