The Tanzanian LGBTI+ community is on high alert after it was announced that an anti-gay squad would begin seeking out and arresting anyone suspected of being homosexual as of next week.
The announcement was made on Monday by Paul Makonda, governor of the country’s capital Dar es Salaam. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and anyone found guilty faces a life sentence.
Calling for public participation in the campaign, AFP reported Makonda said: “Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them.”
Last year, two South African men, along with ten others, were arrested and questioned about “promoting homosexuality.” At the time, Tanzanian authorities also set out to deport foreigners advocating for gay rights in the country.
But Tanzania is not the only country to take such a definitively harsh stance on homosexuality. According to the World Economic Forum, there are 73 countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence. In eight of these countries, including Nigeria and Somalia, sexual activity between two consenting adults of the same sex is punishable by death.
Here’s five African countries which outlaw homosexuality.
In 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. After this, a March 2018 report by The Guardian noted that raids on establishments frequented by the gay community became a common occurance.
A raid in Club Owode in Lagos in 2017 saw 70 men and boys arrested. “In the majority of these cases the police extort funds from them,” activist Daniel Okoye told The Guardian. “For most of them, their single wish is to pay and get out, and the police use that against them.”
Sudan is guided by its 1991 penal code in its efforts against same-sex relationships. The harsh penalties recommended by the code include life in prison and even death. Human Rights Watch says the “restrictions severely impede the ability of groups who work on LGBT issues to register as NGO’s.”
The north African country relies on anal examinations in its anti-gay project. According to Reuters, a judicial source was last year quoted saying: “The examinations are carried out by a forensic doctor who swore to respect his profession and its ethics.”
After six men were arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” and “debauchery”, Amnesty International’s Naija Bounaim said: “The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritising hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable.”
In August, a physician spoke to NBC News under the fictitious name ‘Omar’. “It’s difficult to be gay in Egypt. If you’re out, you can be subjected to discrimination, abuse, being arrested, having forced physical examinations or being sentenced to time in jail.”
People found to be in same-sex relationships in Uganda can spend as much as seven years in prison, according to Amnesty International. The legislative framework for Uganda’s anti-gay mission is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which makes provision for sentences for homosexual sex and promoting sexuality.