Tanzania Hub

Tanzanian MP To Submit Bill Outlawing 'Gay Recruitment'

Tanzanian Member of Parliament Ezekiel Wenje recently told The East African that he plans on submitting a anti-gay bill outlawing “gay recruitment” in his country.

WenjeThe East African reports:

Mr. Wenje said homosexuality is on the rise in Tanzania because the existing legislation does not provide a sufficient deterrent.

Under the current law, convicted suspects face custodial sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. According to Section 154 of the Act, any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is liable to imprisonment for life.

But Wenje said the law does not cover those who induce others to become gays or those who promote the behaviour.

He said there are many gays in Dar es Salaam who operate in the open, go to bars and social places, and that more young people are choosing the lifestyle.

Mr. Wenje is optimistic that his Bill will receive support from his colleagues and eventually get passed into law despite a predictable donor stance on the issue.

“We should not care about aid, we should care about our values and the future of the country,” he said when asked if passing of such law would not lead to donor’s freezing aid like is happening in Uganda.

TanzaniaAccording to the book The Dictionary of Homophobia:

Male homosexuality has been illegal in Tanzania since colonial times (Tanzania was a German colony from 1884 until World War I, then a British colony until independence was declared in 1961). Articles 154 to 157 of Tanzania’s penal code render all homosexual relations between men punishable… [though] (there is no mention of women).

Having said this, the law does not seem to be regularly applied, or if so, only erratically… And there is a burgeoning gay movement in the country; Community Peer Support Services (CPSS), an association for the defense of gays and lesbians, has been in existence since 1997 and currently has 334 members whom it trains to become activists. According to CPSS, the situation of gays and lesbians is better in Tanzania then in all its neighboring countries.

Though that would certainly change if this proposed bill becomes law. In 2012, a gay rights activist was murdered in Tanzania.

Will Obama Speak Out About Gay Rights in Africa?

President Obama is visiting Africa next month. The AP wonders if anti-gay human rights abuses on the continent and/or the SCOTUS marriage cases will play any role in his dialogue with the countries he will visit:

SenegalHomosexuality is considered a criminal offense in many African nations, including Senegal and Tanzania, two of the countries Obama will visit. South Africa, the third country on the president's itinerary, has broad protections for homosexuals and is the only African country to legalize gay marriage.


"If the timing works out so that he's there, it may provide a perfect opportunity for him to speak out about the principles we value in our democracy and how we would hope that others follow it," said Socarides, who worked in the White House during the Clinton administration.

Two of the countries Obama will visit outlaw homosexuality:

According to the State Department's 2012 human rights report on Tanzania, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal and carries a prison sentence of 30 years to life. The report also concluded that gays and lesbians face "societal discrimination that restricted their access to health care, housing and employment" and that there were no government efforts to combat such discrimination.

Conditions are similar in Senegal, according to the State Department. The agency's 2012 human rights report on the West African nation says consensual same-sex activity, referred to in the law as an "act against nature," is a criminal offense.

And, Nigeria, as you may know, yesterday passed a law that would jail gays for up to 14 years for a variety of offenses.

Gay Rights Activist Found Dead in Tanzania

Maurice Mjomba, a gay rights activist, was found dead in his home in Dar es Salaam, Identity Kenya reports:

MjombaAccording to Julius Lumanyika Kyaruzi, the coordinator at CHRP where Mjomba was working as the Training Coordinator (HIV and injecting drug use), Mjomba was found dead at his home. Julius told Identity Kenya that a neighbour  'noticed a foul smell' from Mjomba's house and called the police. This could mean Mjomba could have been dead for days. His body is at Muhimbili Mortuary awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The police investigations are also being conducted though initial reports point he may have been murdered.

Cell Phones Take Prominent Role in AIDS Prevention in Tanzania

An experimental program in Tanzania communicates to gay men through cell phone texts in an effort to provide private-conveyed information to help stem HIV and AIDS in the largely homophobic and discriminatory nation:

Tanzania "Joyce Nyoni --the project coordinator and a sociology lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam -- said the 'safe sex text test' would start by next monthand run for 20 months. 'We hope to motivate the participants and equip them with scientific knowledge and skills on how to protect themselves and their partners from HIV/Aids. So far I have informally identified 10 'seed' candidates who will help to recruit others. We hope to connect up to 300 homosexual men, who will be receiving at least three messages a week each on an anonymous basis,' Nyoni said...Nyoni said she will write the safe-sex messages in consultation with HIV counsellors and will use computer software to monitor message delivery. Group members will be allocated identity codes to remain anonymous because homosexuals face discrimination in Tanzania. For the same reason, the project's outcomes will be measured against questionnaires rather than blood tests, Nyoni said."

Nyoni says more than a quarter of Tanzanians use cell phones regularly.

Mail & Guardian adds: "
According to figures released by the Tanzania Commission for Aids, about six of every 100 citizens between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HIV/Aids. Because of the stigma, it is not known how the country's homosexual population is affected, although Ananilea Nkya from the commission said the country's epidemic is predominantly heterosexual and affects more women than men."


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