Africa

3 more arrests in Tanzania’s anti-gay crackdown

Tanzania’s ongoing anti-gay crackdown has led to a series of arrests based on an online video of an event described as a lesbian engagement party.

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 8:

Tanzania arrests 3 more over online video of women kissing

Tanzania map shows the location of Geita. (Map courtesy of Aliens and Strangers)

Tanzania map shows the location of Geita. (Map courtesy of Aliens and Strangers)

DODOMA, Tanzania –- Tanzanian police say they have arrested three more people over a video shared online in which a woman kisses and embraces another woman.

Ahmed Msangi, police chief in the Mwanza region, says 25-year-old Janeth Shonza was arrested in the central region of Singida. He says police also are holding a man accused of creating the video and another woman seen in it.

One of the women seen kissing, Milembe Suleiman, was arrested in the northwestern region of Geita earlier this week.

Tanzania’s The Citizen reported on Dec. 2:

Geita woman arrested over homosexuality

Police in Geita Region are holding a woman for allegedly engaging in homosexuality.

Tanzanian video: Showing off the alleged engagement ring. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Tanzanian video: Showing off the alleged engagement ring. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

The arrest of the woman comes after a video clip went viral on social media starting [Nov. 29], showing her fitting an engagement ring on the finger of a fellow woman, to whom she presented an ignition key as a gift.

Geita regional Police commander Mponjoli Mwabulambo confirmed the arrest of the woman aged between 30 and 40, saying he would give more details over the incident once investigations were complete.

Reports from the Police had it that the woman, who works with one mining firm in the procurement unit, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Kasamwa Village in the district.

The video clip has sparked debates in Geita Town, where residents were seen in groups discussing about the incident. …

Geita regional commissioner Robert Gabriel said …

“The country’s laws are clear as homosexuality is not allowed and if this incident has occurred, then it must be condemned. We will not leave this matter to end just like that, but we will ensure that the law takes its course.”

For many months, Tanzania has been waging a battle against LGBT people and organizations serving LGBT people, including those fighting HIV in the LGBT community. But few Tanzanian officials acknowledge that their crackdown is likely to increase the incidence of HIV and AIDS in the country.

As the London-based Independent reported about Tanzania:

“The country’s health ministry banned non-governmental organisations last year from distributing free lubricants to gay men as part of HIV/AIDS control measures, despite warnings from health experts that shutting such programmes down could put the wider population at higher risk of infections. An estimated 1.4 million Tanzanians are living with HIV, out of a population of more than 50 million.”

Instead, as the following section of the Citizen article shows, Tanzanian officials focus on encouraging abstinence, traditional social behavior and good manners — as if those measures could defeat AIDS:

Tanzanian video: Embrace at alleged engagement party. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Tanzanian video: Embrace at alleged engagement party. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

[As] the world marked the World Aids Day, the regional authorities urged parents to sit down with their children and educate them about not involving in sexual relations at a tender age.

According to [Gabriel], HIV/Aids infection in the regions was higher among young people aged 15 to 25, and that girls were the most affected.

Residents in the region condemned the woman for engaging in homosexuality and even taking a video clip of the event. They asked the government to take stern measures against the women involved as they taught bad manners to other young people.

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