[The Sexuality Blog ] When it comes to homosexuality, Africa is a country
Last month, it was all over the news that the Lagos State government in collusion with the Nigerian Police, raided a hotel where 80 people were attending a HIV/AIDS sensitisation event and arrested all of them on charges of homosexuality.
We reported how half of the people arrested and charged were said to be minors and the 28 adults charged were publicly paraded and their identities revealed to the public even though it put them at risk of being targets of hate crimes. The Lagos state government which already has a terrible track record with human rights in the last two years neither apologised nor took down its post naming and shaming these innocent persons.
But it seems that this kind of knee jerk of government power isnât just specific to Nigeria.
African News has just reported that the Tanzanian police have announce d that they arrested twelve women and eight men on Tanzaniaâs semi-autonomous archipelago Zanzibar for alleged homosexuality. These twenty persons who are certified volunteers and aid workers were undergoing training from an NGO that works on HIV/AIDS education programmes when the police raided the hotel and arrested them. It turns out that the Tanzanian government recently banned privately run health centres from providing AIDS related services on the frankly ridiculous grounds that these centres âpromoteâ homosexuality by providing health care for LGBT persons and refusing to discriminate against them.
âThey are implicated in homosexuality. We arrested them and are busy interrogating them. The police cannot turn a blind eye to this practice,â said regional police commander Hassan Ali Nasri on state television.
In Tanzania, the laws discriminate against gay male sex, offering a minimum of 30 years imprisonment as punishment â" a punis hment that goes all the way up to life imprisonment. There are however no laws punishing lesbian sex, because you know, patriarchy.
Apart from banning lubricants (because apparently only gay men use them) and threatening to deport foreign aid workers and human rights advocates who âpromoteâ homosexuality, the government in Tanzania also detains men suspected of homosexuality and forces them to undergo âanal examsâ to find âproofâ of their homosexuality. Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu who is behind many of these policies has already supported the arrest of the 20 aid workers and threatens to punish them.
How does one even begin to phrase what is going on in Tanzania. Why does Africa continue to pretend that sexuality can be punished away?
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