There’s a crackdown on human rights going on in one of Africa’s leading economies. And high-level politicians are leading the way.
Cracking down on human rights
One big area where human rights are weak across Africa is on homosexuality. The continent has some of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world. And Tanzania is the latest country to hit the news for its assault on homosexual citizens.
President John Magufuli is leading this attack. He said in a recent speech that NGOs campaigning for gay rights should be challenged. And he insisted:
Those who teach such things do not like us, brothers. They brought us drugs and homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of
Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba, meanwhile, said that people campaigning for gay rights would face arrest. And he stressed:
Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things
And it’s not just the LGBTQ community which has been a target. Magufuli’s government has reportedly also arrested journalists and censored media outlets.
A worrying trend
The ruling CCM party has been in power for decades, but has gradually moved away from its progressive roots and towards neoliberalism. And its recent spike in anti-gay rhetoric may well be an attempt to keep voter support by attacking an often marginalised section of society. Especially considering that, in one 2007 poll, 95% of Tanzanians said ‘homosexuality should be rejected’; and considering that gay sex is illegal in dozens of African countries (including Tanzania), with such relations being punishable by death in Mauritania and Sudan.
Referring to Tanzania’s current government, Amnesty International has said:
The administration is moving in a repressive direction and that cannot be tolerated, whether it’s LGBTI, whether it’s journalists, whether it’s civil society organizations who are registered by law to conduct what is legitimate business.
Regarding the LGBTQ community in particular, authorities have shut down dozens of health centres treating AIDS patients, accusing them of promoting homosexuality. The deputy health minister, meanwhile, threatened at one point to publish a list of gay people in the country. He also said that anal examinations would become more common in the country (to check whether men had been involved in homosexual sex or not).
All of this is in spite of African scientists recognising that diverse sexuality is normal. The Academy of Science South Africa, for example, believes there is a wealth of scientific studies which show sexual orientation is determined biologically.
Unfortunately, there’s a long way to go before many people accept that sexual orientation is a characteristic we’re all born with – and that no one should face discrimination over. And what’s even worse is that such discrimination is being pushed by high-level politicians.
That is totally unacceptable.
– In the UK, write to your MP to let them know about your concerns regarding what’s happening in Tanzania.
– Read more on Africa at The Canary Global.
Featured image via Flickr/GovernmentZA
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?