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On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania


Author: Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: November 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,477

ISSN 2369-6885

Keywords: Dar es Salaam, homosexuals, Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge, Tanzania.

On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania[1],[2]

It is more than a month now since late days of October 2018 that there has been a hot debate about Homosexuals in Tanzania. This saga has come out as a result of a press conference held by the current Dar es Salaam city Regional Commissioner who told residents and the Nation that he has launched a ‘war against Homosexuals’ in Dar es Salaam, his area of administration. He urged all “good citizens” of Tanzania to join him in this ‘war’. He further insisted to Tanzanians that he is doing so because Homosexuality is “against God’s directives”. Article 61(1)(2) and (5) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, of 1977 describes a Regional Commissioner as a leader both in the Region assigned to lead, and in the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, as someone who is appointed by the President to supervise the discharge of all duties and functions of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania in the Region assigned to him or her.

The campaign started by asking good citizens to cooperate with him by giving him information on where those suspects who practice Homosexuality lives, house number, streets, or where they do work, or a place of their business or mention anybody whom they suspect as a Homosexual, and  such information to the Regional Commissioner can be channeled to him through various means like calling him directly through his mobile phone, short messages, WhatsApp, or going direct to him to give that crucial information and other secret ways of communications or going to the police stations in Dar es Salaam and give  information  to Police officers about Homosexuals. The Regional Commissioner said his aim is to make sure that he finishes the problem of having Homosexuals in Dar es Salaam because according to him this is a sin to God, and it is against African traditions, and furthermore he wants to save the next generation from this menace. One among of his strategy is to go directly to those suspects to their places, even at their homes and collect them and deal with them. Apart from hunting them house to house, his other strategy is to call them direct to report to Police stations for further procedures such as being interrogated by both Police officers and sometimes by the Regional Commissioner himself on why do those people practice homosexuality. Further plan of such campaign was to include even medical experts like Doctors whom will be required to undertake some medical tests to the suspects of homosexuality so as to establish expert evidence which may be used in the future in case needed, or perhaps to be used in courts just in case or doubtless such medical tests will help to prove whether the suspect is a real Homosexual or not.

In Tanzania homosexuality is an offense, such offense is categorized as unnatural offenses or offenses against morality.  In the Penal Code Cap 16 Revised edition of 2010 which is an Act to establish a code of criminal law in Tanzania from section 154,155,157 the law prohibits the practices of homosexuality, in case a suspect is found guilty of the offense by the court then the punishment is between 30 years to life imprisonment. Furthermore, the Law of Marriage Act Cap 29 under section 9(1) does provide a definition of marriage as the voluntary union of the man and a woman intended to last for their joint lives but the law does not recognize the same-sex marriages or sexual affairs of persons of the same sex. However, the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 in its generality does recognize and protect the rights and liberty of human beings including protection of the minority groups, from article 12 up to article 16 is about protection of human dignity. For instance, in article 12(1) and (2) the constitution stipulates the rights to equality of human beings as follows: “All human beings are born free and are all equal, and every person does deserve respect for his dignity and recognition. While article 13(1) provides that’’ All persons are equal before the law and are entitled, without any discrimination, to protection and equality before the law. Article 13(4) states that “No person shall be discriminated against by any person or any authority acting under any law or in the discharge of the functions or business of any state office. Article 14 provides that “Every person has the right to live and to the protection of his life by the society in accordance with the law”. Article 15(1) provides that “every person has the right to freedom and to live as a free person”. Article 16(1) provides that “Every person is entitled to respect and protection of his person, the privacy of his own person, his family and of his matrimonial life and respect and protection of his residence and private communication.”  In Tanzania constitution is the supreme Law.

Similar rights are also provided in the African Charter On Human and Peoples Rights (1981) which is a Regional Human Rights Instrument set to make sure that member states like Tanzania do recognize as well as observe Human Rights. For instance, under article 2 the charter states that every individual is entitled to enjoy rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the African charter despite their differences of sex, race, color, religion, ethnicity, language, nationality or social origin. Article 3(1) and (2) provides that every individual does deserve to be treated equally before the law and get equal protection before the law. Article 4 provides that every human being deserve to be respected for his life and his integrity and no one should arbitrarily get deprived of this right. Article 5 provides that all human beings deserve the right to get respected for his dignity. Article 6 states that every person has the right to liberty and security of his person, and no one should be deprived this right unless proper legal procedures are adhered, hence no person may be arbitrary arrested or be detained. Similar emphasis has been provided in the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights (1966) this international human rights instrument to provide the protection of civil and political rights of human beings. For example, under article 9(1) the covenant provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security, and no one should be deprived of these rights unless legal procedures adhere. Article 17(1) among other things the article provides that no one should unlawfully interfere with his privacy. Article 26 states that all human beings are equal before the law and deserve without any discrimination to get equal protection of the law. Therefore everyone following up with the issue of homosexuality in Tanzania must also get acquainted with these legal terrains.

And so, following this heavy campaign by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, the Ministry of foreign affairs   issued an official statement almost a week after to the press stating that what the Regional commissioner is doing is his personal opinions and not the opinion of the Government, and later on Minister of home affairs also issued an official statement stating what the Regional commissioner is doing, it is his own opinion and not the position of the Government of Tanzania. The Minister of home affairs further urged that Homosexuals are protected by the constitution of the united republic of Tanzania, therefore, no person should be harassed just because of being a Homosexual, additionally, the Minister of Home affairs told Police officers not to be used in that campaign of witch-hunting Homosexuals. In the Parliament, at mid-November 2018 session a discussion on the state of homosexuality emerged following this saga, but it ended unclearly. In Tanzania due to article 55(1) and article 54(3) of the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 all Ministers are appointed by the President and their duties and functions are to assist and advise the President in exercising his powers.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Activists in Tanzania have – here and there -given their views, defending the rights including those of Homosexuals adding it is right time now to review laws which discriminate Homosexuals since those laws are outdated. While those opposing homosexuality activities in Tanzanian – mainly Christians, and Muslims claims that such practice is contrary to the teachings of their Holy books. There are those who oppose homosexuality in defense of African cultures, saying it is against African lifestyle.

While it can be presumed that probably it is a high time now to make a review of some laws in Tanzania (going to the extent of having a new constitution altogether?) so as to weigh them if they are still valid at this contemporary world of the 21st century because some of these laws were brought up in Tanzania during British colonial times. However, the reality is that majority of Tanzanians do not tolerate mostly gays and then next fewer lesbians in general and it is a threat that can be a danger if one is known to “practice” such activities in Tanzania. A person suspected or caught doing so faces ostracism at the family level and permanent discrimination by the society at large, as the majority of Tanzanians believes that gays and lesbianism is a ‘western culture’ brought to Africa to destroy good African culture, while Christians and Muslims consider it as an abhorrent, abomination sin. More so for Tanzanian political culture, it is a political dice with danger on the one hand – while being populism on another, for a Politician to seem either support or oppose homosexuality.

The irony is that the law against homosexuality itself was introduced from the very west, during its Victorian age when they conquered Africa and ruled it. More so the very Holy books Africans use today as “yardsticks” against homosexuality also came from, were brought by the very west  – the bible and Arabs (for the case of Koran) and are thus really not part of indigenous African tradition and culture, despite the reality that they have succeeded to superimpose and dominate the latter.

Also, it should be known that Tanzania has, since day one of its independence signed United Nations charters, and later even African charters…it is high time for the general public to know what is the content of those treaties that the leaders had signed on their behalf.

This Matter brings forth such questions as what really is an “African culture”, is it monolithic? what is “Western culture” and what is “modern culture” and what is a “Human culture”? what agenda is for “Human rights” and what are not? what are aspects of African culture that are not supposed to change, is homosexuality biological or habit acquired?

It is a sensitive topic Tanzanians are debating hotly this “triple heritage” dialectic. There is confusion that protecting rights of Homosexuals might be seen as encouraging homosexuality itself and that, anyone doing it ends up being judged as a homosexual or lesbian him / her self by association. Also, there is confusion as between what is “western” versus what is “modern” that goes all along even in terms of human rights. How secular in practice is Tanzania where religion mind is dominant?  Were there homosexuals in African cultures before penal codes were introduced by colonialism in Tanzania? and how were they treated in their societies vis – a – vis their respective “life rights” then, and in the eyes of the now…? is African culture homophobic because it is patriarchal? Does that explain somehow why lesbians are to a less extent informally tolerated (woman to themselves) while gays are not (how can a man be turned a woman?) as for the code against anal sex style between a man and a woman even if married, how can the Regional Commissioner practically enforce that? Surveillance device to each bedroom of adult / married Tanzanian? Should the government prescribe the acceptable “normal” sex position (which one?) as the only legitimate one as far as God/Religion morality goes? Can Zamadamu (Swahili for evolution theory) help explain if same-sex attraction is biological or habit-acquired?  Is there a need for Tanzania to come out with a bill of rights that clearly set areas where it’s no business for the government of the day to encroach on someone’s lifestyle based on his/her self-determination in this drama of life? Can Tanzania learn from other African countries and commonwealth countries grappling with a similar situation? What does the African charter on African bill of rights say on that?

Well as one old song by Johnny Nash (who also popularized Bob Marley’s “stir it up” before Bob was a super-star) goes “There are more questions than answers”, findings would be needed to get rational answers, empirically – arrived. Thank you.

Lucas is a Teacher, Historian, Lawyer, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tanzania.
Email- +255754326296

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Teacher, Historian, Lawyer, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tanzania.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 22, 2018:

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Mwakalonge I. On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania [Online].November 2018; 1(B). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Mwakalonge, I. (2018, November 22). On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in TanzaniaRetrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): MWAKALONGE, I. On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania African Freethinker. 1.B, November. 2018. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Mwakalonge, Isakwisa. 2018. “On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania.African Freethinker. 1.B.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Mwakalonge, Isakwisa “On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania.African Freethinker. 1.B (November 2018).

Harvard: Mwakalonge, I. 2018, ‘On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania’, African Freethinker, vol. 1.B. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Mwakalonge, I. 2018, ‘On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania, African Freethinker, vol. 1.B.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge. “On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania.” African Freethinker 1.B (2018):November. 2018. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Mwakalonge I. On the Ongoing Campaign Witch-Hunt Against Homosexuals in Tanzania [Internet]. (2018, November; 1(B). Available from:

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One Comment
  1. Thank you for sharing. This is very sad indeed and we hope that Africa will soon be liberated from Homophobia once and for all.

    Liked by 1 person

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