“Everyone is afraid. We’re all afraid. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Nobody knows.”
So says James Wandera Ouma, director of LGBT Voice Tanzania, a Tanzanian queer rights organisation. His comments followed a recent announcement by Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba that the government would be cracking down on queer rights activists and organisations.
Speaking at a rally in Dodoma on Sunday June 25, Nchemba said: “Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things. If we establish that any organisation registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights, I will deregister that organisation. If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country.”
Homosexuality carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment in Tanzania. Nchemba, however, has extended the country’s limitation on queer rights to organisations which campaigned for queer rights.
“I would like to use this opportunity to remind and warn all organisations and institutions that campaign … to protect homosexual interests, that we are going to arrest whoever is involved and charge them in courts of law. If we find a foreigner conducting this campaign, he or she will be deported within no time. They will not have even the time to unplug their mobile phones from the socket.”
This attitude from the government is not new. Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla, for example, has previously been an outspoken opponent of queer rights.
Ghoshal, a Human Rights Watch researcher, says that the anti-queer sentiment reaches right to the top of government.
“There was never any public disavowal of the statements made by the deputy minister of health. The fact that the president allowed for it – or never spoke out against it – shows that he sees nothing wrong with it,” says Ghoshal. Read more via Mail & Guardian