Newlywed lesbian couple faces jail in Tanzania after wedding video goes viral
A lesbian couple are facing jail in Tanzania, after a video of their wedding went viral on social media.
The video of the women exchanging rings and kissing was shared thousands of times online in the East African nation, where homosexuality is a punishable offence.
Tanzania’s law states that being gay is “against the order of nature” and anyone convicted could face life in prison.
Milembe Selemani, 35, and Janeth Shonza, 25, were brought before the Mwanza Resident Magistrate Court, in Northern Tanzania, after getting married at the end of August.
The attorney told the presiding magistrate that the two had committed offences of lesbianism, breaking 138(a) of the country’s penal code.
The couple, if convicted of homosexuality, could go to jail.
In Tanzania, homosexual activity is punishable by a minimum of 30 years in prison or a maximum term of life in prison.
Richard Fabian, 28, who filmed and uploaded the video to social media, was taken to court, after being accused of breaching Tanzania’s Cyber Crimes Act of 2015.
The master of ceremony at the wedding, Annet Mkuki, 24 was also being held for her role in the event.
The region’s police force has made more arrests since and is looking for more suspects involved in the wedding.
The woman was thought to be the first lesbian suspect arrested in Tanzania.
Ahmed Msangi, police chief of Tanzania’s Mwanza region (where both videos were filmed), said the incidences of homosexuality were on the increase and it needed to be condemned by all.
He asked members of the public to inform the police of anyone thought to be engaging in same-sex relationships.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tanzania and president John Magufuli’s government has enacted a ruthless crackdown since coming to power in 2015.
Reports emerged in October that police raided a meeting at a hotel in Dar es Salaam and arrested 12 men for “promoting same-sex relationships.”
The Tanzanian government has also launched a clampdown on LGBT activists and advocates, threatening arrest or expulsion from the country.
More from PinkNews
It has also expressed the wish to deregister all non-governmental organisations campaigning for gay rights.
Closing HIV/AIDs outreach programmes would put the wider population of Tanzania at greater risk from infection.
Approximately 1.4 million out of 50 million Tanzanians are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDs.
Homosexuality is illegal in most of Africa and is punishable by death in Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia and Sudan.