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Paul Makonda, the governor of a major city in Tanzania, had vowed to begin hunting down and performing mass arrests of "homosexuals in our city" starting next week. Since being elected as regional commissioner, Makonda made homophobic remarks and threatened to execute homosexuals. Under British colonial-era laws, homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania with same-sex acts between men punishable by a maximum life sentence.
“I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province,” Paul Makonda told reporters on Monday, calling on citizens to begin reporting homosexuals for round-ups to begin next week.”
Tanzania is rapidly becoming one of the worst countries in the world for LGBTQ individuals. Political rhetoric against homosexuality in this country in eastern Africa has increased since Magufuli's 2015 election. According to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey, 95 percent of Tanzanians believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Last year, Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, said that everybody should condemn homosexuality, "even cows." Soon after his government threatened to arrest or deport gay rights activists.
Three South Africans were subsequently expelled for allegedly advocating for same-sex marriage. AIDS clinics have also been shut down under Magafuli, accused of "promoting" homosexuality, while he has encouraged women to abandon birth control and have more babies.
Makonda’s motivations are as expected — religious in nature.
“These homosexuals boast on social networks,” said Makonda, a fervent Christian and loyal ally of President John Magufuli.
“Give me their names,” he demanded. “My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday.”
Makonda said he expected criticism from outsiders for his hardline stance but added: “I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
Makonda said homosexual behaviour “tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions“.
Tanzania isn’t the only country in Africa that is hostile to LGBTQ citizens. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 countries in Africa, and is punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia according to Amnesty International.