“This is a shocking blow following the Tanzanian government’s assurance that no-one would be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” Seif Magango, East Africa Deputy Director for human rights group Amnesty International said.
“This appalling attack on Tanzanian people simply exercising their human rights shows the danger of inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric at senior levels of government.
“We now fear these men may be subjected to forced anal examination, the government’s method of choice for ‘proving’ same-sex sexual activity among men. This must not be allowed to happen – these men must be released immediately.”
There are reportedly at least 10 men who are living under the threat of execution by a hit squad. The men were rounded up by police after they received word they were at a Pongwe Beach party.
Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, announced that an anti-gay surveillance team would be monitoring social media to scout out the gay men. Makonda also encouraged others to reveal the names of men they assumed were gay so authorities could question them.
Last week, Makonda, who supports ousting gays from the community said: “I have received reports that there are so many homosexuals in our city, and these homosexuals, are advertising and selling their services on the internet.
“Therefore, I am announcing this to every citizen of Dar es Salaam. If you know any gays … report them to me, give me their names.”
Homosexuality is a crime in Tanzania, and its President John Magufuli had led efforts to seek out and persecute gay people.
While no charges have been filed against the 10 men just yet, they remain at Chakwal police station in Unguja.
Amnesty International said police arrested the men for sitting “two by two” while conducting a gay marriage, the Guardian reported.
Magango added: “It’s mind-boggling that the mere act of sitting in a pair can assume criminal proportions. The police clearly have no grounds to file charges against these men in court, despite arresting them three days ago.”