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Tanzanian official creates task force to hunt and expose LGBT community

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On Monday it was reported by various news outlets that the regional governor of Dar Es Salaam launched an anti-gay crackdown.

According to Vox, Governor and administrative head Paul Makonda made his intentions clear last week when he announced that he’d be forming a task force of officials and police to find and arrest gay people in the former capital city of Dar Es Salaam. In a news conference Makonda called for Tanzanians to report anyone believed to be gay and said he’d received more than 5000 messages from the public with over 100 names.

According to CNN, In a video last week Makonda said, ‘I have received reports that there are so many homosexuals in our city, and these homosexuals are advertising and selling their services on the internet." He continued,"Therefore, I am announcing this to every citizen of Dar es Salaam. If you know any gays … report them to me.”

Many Queer Tanzanians feel threatened and unsafe and have gone into hiding and are relocating to other areas after the announcement was made.

Officials of Tanzanian’s government have made it clear that they are not officially associated with Makonda’s policy and opinions although some activists are reportedly quick to point out that Makonda was appointed by John Magufuli, Tanzania’s president and the country’s officials have backed more than a few homophobic tactics since Magufuli was made president in 2015. The European Union has since recalled their ambassador from Tanzania on Monday and the US State Department ‘issued a warning’ to US citizens traveling or living in Tanzania to remove social media images that could ‘run afoul of Tanzanian laws regarding homosexual practices and explicit sexual activity.”

Michelle Bachelet, The High Comissioner of Human Rights, said in statement on Friday:  “This could turn into a witch-hunt and could be interpreted as a license to carry out violence, intimidation, bullying, harassment and discrimination against those perceived to be LGBT.”

Politcal tragetting against gay people has increased in recent years since President Magufuli was elected. In a statement he made last year he said 'even cows' should condemn homosexuality and threatened to deport and persecute queer rights activists in the country.

Gay male sex is punishable from up to 30 years in prison, an extremely harsh punishment and a legacy of British-colonial laws. 

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