Tanzania launches new social media squad to arrest gay people

Paul Makonda, governor of the country’s largest city Dar es Salaam, issued the directive in a news conference delivered on Monday.

The 17-member squad will seek out same-sex couples through social media, while the AFP quoted Mr Makonda as saying: “these homosexuals boast on social networks.”

“Give me their names,” he said.

“My ad-hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday.”

Tanzania uses colonial statutes to defend ‘moral values’

Male homosexuality has long been considered a moral taboo to be punished harshly.

Initially brought into being in the 19th century via German, then British colonial-era statutes, the country upholds provisions outlined in the Tanzania Penal Code of 1945, stating that any person who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is liable for life imprisonment or a term for at least 30 years.

Tanzania is one of 37 Commonwealth member-states that continue to uphold colonial sodomy laws, while others, such as South Africa, India and Belize, have overturned them.

At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of the “deep regrets” over Britain’s anti-gay colonial legacy.

“Nobody should face discrimination and persecution because of who they are or who they love,” Mrs May told the BBC.

“The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth nation wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.”

The Tanzanian government has not previously been shaken by international condemnation.

Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said in 2017 that “those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things”.

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