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Tanzania: MP to draft bill to tighten anti-gay laws

LGBT activist says politicians want to focus on other priorities


A Tanzanian MP says he plans to introduce a private member’s bill to strengthen already existing anti-gay legislation, claiming homosexual behaviour is becoming increasingly prevalent in the country, according to a report in The East African.

Ezekiel Wenje, a member of one of the opposition parties, says he is proposing the measure because current laws do not cover attempts to encourage people to become gay or the promotion of homosexuality, the report says. The lawmaker claims that more young people are “choosing” to be gay and that many gays are open about their sexuality and are congregating in social places in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam.

Wenje dismisses the threat of aid cuts or freezes from abroad, a situation Uganda is facing since it enacted its anti-gay law, saying it is more important for Tanzania to safeguard its values. 

LGBT advocacy group Stay Awake Network Activities (SANA) is not convinced that a majority of MPs have an appetite for such legislation, Gay Star News reports. A spokesperson for the group says Tanzania is not like Uganda, contending that the government usually has “no problem” with the community as long as LGBT people keep “a low profile.”

While politicians sometimes use the community as a trump card to gain votes, the spokesperson says, lawmakers tend to focus on other priorities.