Tanzania has faced global outrage after a governor announced an anti-LGBTI crackdown.
Thousands of LGBTI people living in Dar es Salaam face imprisonment for 30 years following the call for a public witch-hunt.
Paul Makonda, the governor of the economic capital, launched the violent crackdown last Monday.
He is now encouraging citizens to report gay people to the police.
Authorities will also be trawling for possible LGBTI people on social media.
Tanzania distances itself from governor’s homophobic crackdown
Following this, the government has distanced itself from Makonda’s comments without condemning them.
In a statement, the Foreign Affairs office clarified this is the governor’s ‘opinion and not the state of the government’.
In addition, the government stated it will ‘continue to respect all international agreements on human rights [they] have signed and ratified’.
‘The United Republic of Tanzania continues and will continue to respect and protect such rights as contained in the Constitution.’
However, homosexuality is still illegal and punishable by up to 30 years.
Public report over 100 LGBTI people to the police
The government has reportedly received over 10,000 messages from ‘concerned’ members of the public.
LGBTI people are also being named, photographed, and their addresses leaked.
‘If you know of a homosexual, you must report them to a police officer,’ Makonda told reporters.
‘No one can escape.’
Makonda also said homosexuals ‘boast on media and social networks’ about their ‘abnormal’ sexuality.
‘Give me their names,’ he then demanded. ‘My team will have them all by next Monday.’
The governor continued to say he was expecting an outraged response from progressive countries.
‘I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God,’ he then said.
Makonda said gay sex ‘tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions’.
Tanzania government already has over ‘100 names’ of LGBTI people
Speaking to VOA’s Swahili service, Makonda stood by his remarks.
He said he didn’t want to punish gay people with jail time, but to ‘cure them’.
Gay ‘cure’ therapy is considered torture by every mainstream health organization. It does not work.
‘We have a team of doctors and psychologists to help them to change,’ Makonda said.
Rising homophobic rhetoric in Tanzania
President John Magufuli, elected in 2015, has brought back an extreme homophobic rhetoric.
Last year the president said everybody should condemn homosexuality, ‘even cows‘.
Gay Star News spoke to a gay woman, from Tanzania, who wanted to stay anonymous.
‘These people don’t joke,’ she then told us. ‘They mean business.’
She said she has also heard of LGBTI people being bound, their heads forced into rubber tires, as they are burned to death.
‘Tanzania now terrifies me,’ she said.
‘[Magulufi] is using his power to control people. He’s a tyrant. You can easily disappear in Tanzania. I don’t want to risk it myself.’
Magufuli accused AIDS clinics of being ‘hotbeds for homosexuality’.
In 2017, 13 activists and lawyers were jailed simply for trying to protect health initiatives against HIV.
Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu has also banned the sale of lube, insisting it encourages gay men to have sex.