Amid efforts to give equal rights to LGBTQ community, Tanzania is headed in the opposite direction. Days after President John Magufuli attacked NGOs campaigning for gay rights and said that they should be opposed even if meant losing foreign aid, Interior Minister Mwigulu Nchemba slammed those in favour of gay rights.

Interior Minister Mwigulu Nchemba was quoted by the state-owned saying, “I would like to remind and warn all organisations and institutions that campaign and pretend to protect homosexual interests … we are going to arrest whoever is involved and charge them in courts of law”.

He added that  foreigners involved in such campaigns would be “deported within no time … they will not have even the time to unplug their mobile phones from the socket.”

There has been a rise in intolerance of the LGBTQ community in Tanzania in recent years. The regional commissioner for the port city of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, arrested men in dozens of clubs and pushed the anti-gay rhetoric.

Tanzania banned the import of sex lubricants that were considered to promote homosexuality. The recent crackdown against the gay community has been accentuated by comments from politicians like the president, who claimed that those in favour of gay rights “brought us drugs and homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of”.

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Politicians in Tanzania have taken a strong stand against the gay community, and men suspected of homosexuality have been detained and made to take anal exams to confirm their sexuality. The Tanzanian government even threatened to publish a list of ‘gay people selling sex online’. 

As per the Amnesty International, out of 54 countries in Africa, homosexuality is illegal in 38 countries and in some countries like Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia, it is punishable by death.