Amnesty Says Tanzania Must Scrap Its Planned Anti-Gay Campaign

(Bloomberg) -- Tanzania is taking a “dangerous path” in forming a unit to identify and arrest homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and should abandon the plans immediately, Amnesty International said.

The regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, on Monday announced a task force to fully enforce Tanzania’s existent laws against same-sex relations, the London-based advocacy group said in a statement. Its members would include police and officials from the communications regulator and media.

“It is extremely regrettable that Tanzania has chosen to take such a dangerous path in its handling of an already marginalized group of people,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty’s regional director. “The idea of this task force must be immediately abandoned as it only serves to incite hatred among members of the public.”

The plans are the latest from President John Magufuli’s government to come under fire from human-rights groups. The East African nation has made it illegal for pregnant school girls to attend classes and banned some songs that mention sex or politics. Magufuli, nicknamed the “bulldozer” for his zeal, has also urged Tanzanians not to use contraceptives, saying birth control is for the lazy that can’t feed their children.

Amnesty said Tanzanian authorities arrested 13 activists involved in health and human rights a year ago for allegedly promoting homosexuality. In 2016, the Health Ministry suspended medical services and HIV/AIDS treatment for members of the LGBTI community, it said.

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