Homophobia is costing Tanzania

Gay-rights demonstrators in Tanzania. (Source: Twitter.com/LGBTvoicetz)
Gay-rights demonstrators in Tanzania. (Source: Twitter.com/LGBTvoicetz)

Increasingly homophobic and authoritarian public policies in Tanzania have prompted a big pullback by international donors. 

Denmark will withhold $10 million in aid, and the World Bank has withdrawn a planned $300 million loan.

Denmark is Tanzania’s second-biggest donor, providing over $52 million in foreign aid thus far in 2018.

However, it cited human rights abuses and homophobic comments from a Tanzanian government official in announcing its aid withdrawal, while the World Bank noted Tanzania’s policy of banning pregnant girls from attending school.

International human-rights groups also warned of growing authoritarianism in Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s government.

As reported here previously, Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for the Tanzanian capital city Dar es Salaam, last month announced the creation of a 17-member committee and surveillance operation dedicated to tracking down homosexuals.

He also called on the public to report suspected homosexuals to the police.

A government spokesperson sought to create distance from the comments, saying that Makonda “was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania.”

However, homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. And, earlier this month, ten men were arrested for a same-sex marriage on Zanzibar.

On Tuesday, Magufuli alluded to the recent aid and loan withdrawals, saying he prefers Chinese government aid to Western aid.

“The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give,” he said.

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