In their latest attack on Tanzania’s LGBT community, lawmakers in the country have voted to ban HIV/AIDS outreach programs.
The move comes just months after Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe decided to stall operations on all pro-LGBT charities in order to protect the “culture of Tanzanians” and Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu announced a ban on sexual lubricant because it “encourages homosexuality.”
Though Tanzania is surrounded by the notoriously anti-LGBT countries of Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, its government has historically turned a blind eye to the issue, neither promoting increased equality nor clamping down on the community’s rights.
That was until this summer, when the government not only announced its bans on lube and LGBT charities, but also pushed to arrest anyone who followed LGBT individuals on social media.
“If there’s a homosexual who has a Facebook account, or with an Instagram account, all those who ‘follow’ him…are just as guilty as the homosexual,” regional commissioner Paul Makonda told a crowd at a recent religious rally.
“There are already very few activists in Tanzania, and there are very few LGBT people who are out publicly,” explained Human Rights Watch’s Neela Ghoshal. “Now people feel the need to go extremely underground in order to feel safe.”
According to The Washington Post, this is the first time a country has suspended activity of a United States HIV/AIDS initiative in opposition to the LGBT community.
For more on international LGBT issues, visit Logo’s Global Ally site.