Homosexuality is not illegal in Tanzania, but male sexual relations can be punished with up to 30 years in prison. Why? Because of old colonial laws few care to get rid of. In fact, resistance against homosexuality is often used by politicians to rally religious communities to their side.
"The country is crying" local activists tell us, "but not for us". "In the church it is said that we are sinners. That we need special help. Certain politicians go to churches and form alliances with the people there, using words that they want to hear. They would cry, they would pray, very, very heavily, saying that we are bringing the world to an end."
The fight against homosexuality increased nationwide in Tanzania in October 2018, when the governor of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, officially started a witch-hunt against the gay community. People were encouraged to report friends and family; a special task force was established to hunt down and arrest people suspected of being gay. Makonda dismissed international criticism, stating: "I prefer to anger those countries, than to anger God".
A year later, little has change for gay people in Tanzania. During the autumn om 2019, we met members of the LGBT community in Tanzania.
AUTHOR: Håkon Benjaminsen NORWAY
Håkon Benjaminsen is a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker living and working in Oslo, Norway.