TANZANIA: Fearful LGBTs Go Into Hiding As Governor’s Call To Turn Them In Yields Thousands Of Messages

The Guardian reports:

A Tanzanian official said he has received thousands of messages after ordering the public to report the name of any person suspected of being gay. Paul Makonda, regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, made the request on Monday, pledging that a special team would “get their hands on them” next week. By Tuesday, he said he had already received 5,763 messages from the public, with more than 100 names.

A 17-member committee will also be established to identify gay people on social media and arrest them. Many LGBT activists, who fear violent attacks from police and members of the public, have either fled their area or remain shut in their homes. “Every gay person is living in fear. Even the parents of gay children are also living in great fear,” said Geofrey Mashala, a Tanzanian LGBT activist now living in California.

Reuters reports:

Makonda’s announcement has sparked panic and fear among thousands of LGBT+ people in the east African nation. Some said they were too scared to go outside during the day, while others had left their homes fearing imminent arrest. “Since Monday, I have left my place and have been moving here and there. I am always looking over my shoulder in case they coming for me,” Nathan, 24, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Dar es Salaam.

“There’s so much tension within the gay community at the moment. Not just in Dar, but all over the country. We are really scared. We don’t know what to do and where to go.” Gay sex is illegal in Tanzania, but the law is rarely enforced. Homophobia and attacks and arrests on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT+) have however risen since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015, activists say.