Tanzanian men arrested for ‘being gay’ released on bail
The men were arrested after they attended a same-sex wedding. LGBT+ people in Tanzania can face life imprisonment if they are convicted of having gay sex.
Police reportedly raided the wedding at Pongwe Beach on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar and detained the men last Saturday, according to Amnesty International.
Thomas Reuters Foundation has reported that the men were released on bail on Thursday, according to a senior police official and the men’s lawyer.
However, the incident is still being investigated and the men could be charged in the future if more evidence against them is found.
The regional police commander for the area in Tanzania, Suleiman Hassan, told Reuters that they have so far “found no evidence of unlawful acts.”
“We are however continuing our investigation and if we find evidence, they could be rearrested and charged,” he added.
A lawyer representing the 10 men – who did not want to be named – also told Reuters that they had been released, but added that the case could continue.
“I have dealt with many such cases and given the high level of homophobia in the country, I don’t think this will be the end for my clients,” he said.
He added that the men are “likely to be harassed and re-arrested.”
Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s deputy director for east Africa, told Reuters that the situation for the men – and for the LGBT+ community in Tanzania – is precarious.
“The government must come out and condemn the harassment of people perceived to be from a sexual minority and they must forbid their arrests,” he added.
Speaking earlier this week, Magango warned that the men could be subjected to forced anal examinations to determine their sexuality for the case.
The arrests come after Paul Makonda, governor of Tanzania’s most populous city Dar es Salaam, announced the creation of a task force to crack down on LGBT+ activity in the city from November 6 onwards.
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On October 29, Governor Makonda urged Dar es Salaam residents to report any information on LGBT+ residents to authorities.
“Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday,” Makonda said in a declaration.
Makonda, who has held his position since 2016, added: “I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province.”
Earlier this week, activists living in Zanzibar told PinkNews that they are expecting LGBT+ people there to be targeted with anal testing, forced convictions and “a high level of brutal violence and harassment.”