(WB) Police in Tanzania on Sept. 16 arrested 20 people for alleged homosexuality at a hotel on Zanzibar, an island off the coast of East Africa.

Police raided the hotel where 12 women and eight men were being trained about HIV/AIDS education programs.

Confirming their arrest on state television, regional police Cmdr. Hassan Ali Nasri said, “They are implicated in homosexuality. We arrested them and are busy interrogating them. The police cannot turn a blind eye to this practice.”

Authorities in this East African country have been clamping down on the LGBT community in recent months.

Tanzanian Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kingwangalla in a homophobic speech before the Parliament on Sept. 15 promised to “fight with all our strength against groups supporting homosexuality in our country,” AFP news agency reports.

The Tanzanian government in February had announced private health centers had to stop providing HIV/AIDS-related services which according to the Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu promotes homosexuality activities.

Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba in June said at a rally that Tanzanians campaigning for gay rights would face arrest, while foreigners would be expelled from the country. President John Magufuli, who is leading this crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the country, says he believes that “even cows disapprove of” homosexuality.

Magufuli said this in June during a rally.

Homosexuality is a crime in Tanzania, punishable by 30 years in jail. Lesser LGBT-related activities carry shorter sentences: so-called “‘gross indecency” between two males carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to 300,000 Tanzanian shillings ($134).

A travel alert issued by International SOS has alerted LGBT travelers visiting Tanzania to maintain a low profile at all times as they may be harassed or face legal issues due to their sexuality.


— Bunmi Johnson, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.