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Tanzania is spreading HIV by banning lube and persecuting LGBT+ people

Tanzania is spreading HIV by banning lube and persecuting LGBT+ people

  • Tanzania has banned lube and even forces suspected gay men to have ‘anal exams’ – which are officially torture.
Victoria, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Tanzania is making HIV spread by cracking down on LGBT+ people and even stopping health organizations from doing their work.

A new report from Human Rights Watch documents a widespread crackdown on LGBT+ people since 2016 in the east African country.

Health ministry stops lube

HRC says Tanzania’s Health Ministry has closed drop-in centers that provided HIV testing.

And it has even banned organizations from distribution lubricant. Water-based lube is essential to avoid condoms splitting for gay and bi men and others.

The Health Ministry claims that organizations that try to prevent HIV and provide lube are ‘promoting homosexuality’.

In fact, it has banned community-based organizations from providing HIV outreach services to gay and bisexual men and other groups particularly vulnerable to the virus.

The government claims to provide health services without discrimination. That means other organizations aren’t needed, it says. But Human Rights Watch found government health centers do discriminate on the basis of sexuality and gender identity.

Raids and arrests on LGBT+ people

But it gets even worse.

Tanzania police have also raided meetings and training sessions run by health and LGBT+ rights activists and their allies. These raids are making people afraid of accessing HIV prevention.

In November 2018, regional official Paul Makonda threatened to arrest all gay men in Dar es Salaam. The World Bank and foreign diplomats objected. In response, President Magufuli assured the World Bank that Tanzania would not pursue such policies.

Despite that promise, arrests and police actions continued.

And Deputy Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni publicly called for arrests of gay men while visiting Zanzibar in September 2019.

The law banning ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ in Tanzania dates from colonial times.

But the police instruct unethical medical professionals to do forced anal examinations to collect ‘evidence’ of anal intercourse. These exams have no scientific basis. And they are cruel, inhuman, degrading and officially a form of torture.

Human Rights Watch demands change

Human Rights Watch report has released its new report today. It is titled: If We Don’t Get Services We Will Die: Tanzania’s Anti-LGBT Crackdown and the Right to Health.

Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:

‘The Tanzanian authorities have orchestrated a systematic attack on the rights of LGBT people, including their right to health.

‘Manufactured threats around the so-called “promotion of homosexuality” have displaced best practices and evidence-based approaches in guiding HIV policy in Tanzania.

‘The Tanzanian authorities should ensure that not one more Tanzanian is arrested for being gay or trans – or for attending an HIV education session.

‘Concrete steps forward should also include banning forced anal examinations and reforming health policies so that they are based on evidence, not prejudice.’