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Tanzania loses $10 million in aid due to anti-gay crackdown

Sofia Lotto Persio November 15, 2018
Dar es Salaam governor Paul Makonda launched the anti-gay crackdown that cost Tanzania $10 million in aid money.

Paul Makonda, Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam as he addresses a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2017. (Khalfan Said Hassan/AFP/Getty)

Tanzania has lost $10 million worth of aid money from Denmark as a consequence of its anti-gay crackdown.

Danish development minister Ulla Tørnæs announced the decision on Twitter on Wednesday (November 14), expressing her concerns about respect for LGBT+ rights and gay people in the country.

“I’m very concerned about the negative development in Tanzania. Most recently, the unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner,” she wrote.

“Respect for human rights is of paramount importance for Denmark.”

Danish development minister Ulla Tornaes, who made the decision to cut aid to Tanzania, addresses the the 2018 Global Citizen Festiva.
Danish development minister Ulla Tornaes announced the decision to cut aid to Tanzania over its anti-gay crackdown on Twitter. (Theo Wargo/Getty)

Denmark is the second-largest donor to the country, gifting a total the equivalent of $53 million in foreign aid last year, according to Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, the World Bank decided to scrap plans for a $300 million loan to Tanzania due to the country forbidding pregnant girls from attending school and to return to class after giving birth, CNN reported.

The World Bank also questioned the country’s statistics law, approved in September, which would make it a crime to question government data.

When did the anti-gay crackdown begin in Tanzania?

Denmark’s decision followed Dar es Salaam Governor Paul Makonda’s announcement of an anti-gay campaign at the end of October.

Makonda encouraged residents of the country’s largest city to report gay people to a special task force, who were due to begin their hunt on November 6.

Following Makonda’s announcement, the US Embassy in Tanzania issued a security alert on November 3 in which it advertised a three-point action plan to its LGBT+ citizens living in the country, where homosexuality remains illegal under a law dating back to British colonial rule.

The Tanzanian foreign ministry has said that Makonda’s anti-gay crackdown did not represent the government’s position, and only reflected the governor’s “personal views.”

LGBT+ activists in Tanzania
Tanzania was a refuge for LGBT+ people until the last couple of years (LGBT Voice Tanzania/Facebook)

The country’s interior minister Alphaxard Kangi Ndege Lugola gave conflicting opinions with regards to the anti-gay crackdown.

Last week, Lugola sought to reassure that the country is safe and advised anyone who feels threatened to report it to the authorities.

A few days later, however, he condemned homosexuality while addressing the country’s parliament. “Tanzania is not the right place for such acts; we will never allow such things to happen,” Lugola said, quoted in local newspaper Daily News.

Earlier this month, authorities detained 10 men for allegedly carrying out a same-sex marriage in Zanzibar. The men were released on bail, but only after being subjected to physical examinations, the Associated Press reported.

LGBT+ rights campaigners feared these included forced anal tests, invasive and humiliating procedures that are thought to reveal whether a person has engaged in homosexual activity—claims that forensic experts dispute as unscientific.

This article was updated with the amount of aid donations from Denmark to Tanzania in 2017.

More: Africa, anti-gay arrests, Dar es Salaam, denmark, Homophobia, paul makonda, Tanzania, Tanzania

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