The State Department has banned Paul Makonda, regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, the most populous city in Tanzania, from visiting the U.S..
Said the State Department: “These actions against Paul Christian Makonda underscore our concern with human rights violations and abuses in Tanzania, as well as our support for accountability for those who engage in such violations and abuses. We call on the Tanzanian government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, association, and the right of peaceful assembly.”
In November 2018, Makonda launched a crackdown on gay people, announcing a surveillance squad to identify them on social media so they can be arrested. He has also appealed to the public.
The Guardian reported on the crackdown: “By Tuesday, he said he had already received 5,763 messages from the public, with more than 100 names. A 17-member committee will also be established to identify gay people on social media and arrest them. Many LGBT activists, who fear violent attacks from police and members of the public, have either fled their area or remain shut in their homes.”
Said Makonda to reporters: “I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province. These homosexuals boast on social networks. Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday.”
Asked about criticism from outsiders, Makonda said “I prefer to anger those countries [instead of] angering God. [Homosexuality] tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions”.
Said Geofry Mashala, a Tanzanian LGBT activist now living in California, to the Guardian: “Every gay person is living in fear. Even the parents of gay children are also living in great fear.”
Same-sex acts are punishable by life in prison.
In 2017, twenty people attending a training seminar for HIV/AIDS relief work were arrested in Zanzibar.