Tanzania has banned lube and is forcing men into humiliating anal exams to check for gay sex
Lube has been banned in Tanzania and gay men are routinely forced to undergo humiliating anal examinations in what has been described as a crackdown on the LGBT+ community.
The 112-page report, titled If We Don’t Get Services We Will Die, details the extent of persecution queer people in Tanzania face under a harsh regime that is hostile to their existence.
The report calls the forced anal examinations a “medical travesty” and says they in some cases “rise to the level of torture.”
Forced anal examinations in Tanzania have been called unscientific and ‘degrading.’
It also suggests that lubricants have been banned because they “promote homosexuality.”
The government has also closed down HIV testing centres and has stopped community organisations from conducting outreach activities towards populations most at risk of contracting the virus.
Human Rights Watch also said that people routinely face discrimination over their sexual or gender identities in government health centres, meaning LGBT+ people are shut out of the healthcare system.
They slammed anal examinations as having “no scientific basis” and described them as “a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can amount to torture.”
It was very brutal and painful. Everything about that testing was very brutal.
The lengthy report details a case where nine men were taken to a hospital in Zanzibar and subjected to the horrifying examinations. They were detained for five days before they were allowed to go home.
The men never even saw the results of the anal examinations, which were subsequently handed over to police. The case was never officially closed, it is understood.
A Tanzanian person called Kim, interviewed in the report, said “police officers were there with guns” while the anal examinations were carried out “by force.”
“It was very brutal and painful. Everything about that testing was very brutal,” Kim said.
Trans people face brutality from police in the East African country.
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Meanwhile, transgender people interviewed for the report said they had been accused of trying to “recruit” others and spoke of being targeted by police.
One transgender woman, who identified herself as Queen M, said: “There was a time I was coming from a club, in a short dress. I did not have money.
“They said if you don’t have money what else can you offer. I had to have sex with five of them [police officers] the same night.”
The organisation’s report is largely based on 35 interviews conducted with LGBT+ Tanzanians between May 2018 and June 2019. It also draws on comments from activists and lawyers.
“The Tanzanian authorities have orchestrated a systematic attack on the rights of LGBT people, including their right to health,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Manufactured threats around the so-called ‘promotion of homosexuality’ have displaced best practices and evidence-based approaches in guiding HIV policy in Tanzania.”