LGBT Crackdown in Dar Es-Salaam, Tanzania, a gross violation of Human Rights:

A few days after Paul Makonda, the Regional Governor of Tanzania’s largest City, Dar Es Salaam, announced that he seeks to identify and arrest gay citizens and their affiliates using a taskforce, human rights bodies and public outcry have made it very open that the crackdown is a gross violation of Human Rights besides contradicting the Country’s motto, “Freedom and Unity”, infringing on the rights of the LGBT community at large.


The Governor’s homophobic remarks based on obsolete laws have sent many into hiding after he requested for reports naming the affected persons, backed by previous remarks by the Tourism Minister, who warned that the country will not allow any gay tourists into the country, and that should any make their way there, they shall be deported back to their original countries, 2 years after the same administrator rounded up commercial sex workers and gay men, and performed forced anal exams on them. According to James Wandera who is the founder of LGBT Voice, Tanzania, a state of fear reigns in the City as many have gone into hiding and relocation for fear of arrest, forced anal tests and physical attacks.


Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, (UDHR), all humans are born FREE and EQUAL in RIGHTS and DIGNITY, and article 2 addresses freedom from discrimination supported by articles 3 (right to life, liberty and personal security), 5 (freedom from torture and degrading treatment), 6 and 7 (recognition as a person and equality before the law). Denial of these fundamental rights under any conditions is denial of human rights, which are also connected to other key rights such as health. This crackdown also possibly leads to forced anal tests, violating key human rights which the according to the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say, can amount to torture, adding up as a gross violation of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In the wake of this primitive crackdown, the European Union, EU, recalled the ambassador to Tanzania, citing deterioration of the human rights and rule of law situation, and some sources claimed that it will “be conducting a broad review of its relations with Tanzania”.


In the words of Coretta Scott King (wife of slain activist, Martin Luther King Jr.) during the annual Conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, 2000, “Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from any racial, religious, gender or ethnic discrimination”.

The role of leaders, more-so nationally, should be to uphold and to protect laws beyond respecting them first, for the best of the citizens and not to shatter them and spread discrimination, fear and inflammatory messages. Equally, for a country with struggling health indicators, funds spent on such divergent programs should instead be channeled to be of the betterment of the nation instead of divisive sideshows.


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