In what many consider to be a surprising move, Tanzania has brought into place a new law which bands HIV/AIDS outreach programs for LGBT people.
This comes pretty hot on the heels of promises made by Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, who shared his plan to place a ban on pro-LGBT charities. Also, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu has announced a ban on lubricants for personal use as it “encourages homosexuality.”
While the move to outlaw HIV/AIDS might not sound surprising in the wake of these moves, it is all a part of a sudden crackdown in Tanzania on the community. Many were taken by surprise as until now, the country had been tolerant of LGBT people.
This is according to The Guardian, which reads: “Unlike in neighbouring Uganda—where pride events were disrupted by the police last week—Kenya and Zimbabwe, gay Tanzanians have not experienced the same levels of violence and discrimination, and politicians have until now generally ignored the topic.”
James Wandera Ouma, the founder and executive director of LGBT Voice Tanzania, said that these plans are definitely a sign that things will only get worse for the LGBT community in the country: “The environment for the LGBT community is very bad right now and it’s getting worse.”
Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, has also made his plans for a crackdown on LGBT people, and pledged to use social media to identify and arrest people suspected of being gay.
“If there’s a homosexual who has a Facebook account, or with an Instagram account, all those who ‘follow’ him, it is very clear that they are just as guilty as the the homosexual.” He said.
Ouma continued to say that these crackdowns have made it very hard for the LGBT group to continue: “Recently we haven’t been able to organise meetings because everyone is afraid of what will happen. Like people think ‘if I go to this office, the police might come and arrest me’.”
According to information from The Washington Post, this is the first time a country has blocked the US’ HIV/AIDS initiative in outirght opposition of the LGBT community.
Their report reads: “U.S. officials said they are hopeful that the outreach programs will soon be restored, noting that the health minister has said the government is considering which HIV services would be appropriate for the gay community. But members of that community are pessimistic.”