Homosexuality has been prohibited by law in Tanzania since 1945. Tanzanian criminal law treats homosexual acts as so-called "offences against morality". In a generally formulated passage, there is talk of a "physical knowledge (carnal knowledge) against the order of nature" (Tanzania Penal Code, Section 154), which is punishable. According to the text of the law, this is punishable by up to 40 years imprisonment (Section 154).1 The German Foreign Office and articles in various German media report up to 30 years or even life imprisonment.2 Even the attempt to acquire such "physical knowledge" is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment according to Tanzanian law (Section 155).3

It is to be assumed that LBTQIA people are also affected by the wording of the law – even if not explicitly formulated. Tanzanian law, however, explicitly addresses men who carry out "gross indecency" with other men or induce them to do so. According to the law, such acts can result in up to five years' imprisonment for men (Section 157).4 Women are not mentioned here. The British government cites holding hands or kissing in public between two men as examples of homosexual acts that can lead to arrest.5

The Federal Foreign Office stresses that people with a foreign nationality who are in Tanzania are not exempt from the very high penalties. The authority therefore expressly recommends "exercising particular restraint" both in public and on the Internet, for example by posting on social media platforms.

Paul Makonda, the 37-year-old governor of Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania's most populous city, compiled a list of 200 homosexual men towards the end of 2018. According to an article in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Makonda had called on the population to submit the names of alleged homosexuals. Of the 19,000 names submitted at that time, it was reported that he drew up a list of 200 people. If their homosexuality could be proven, they would be charged.6
In the course of this campaign of agitation, the distribution of water-based lubricants was also banned, according to the 2018 Human Rights Watch World Report, which states that lubricants reduce the risk of minor injuries during sexual intercourse, which can transmit diseases such as HIV.7 A general passage in Tanzanian criminal law refers to material that is intended to “corrupt morals “ - the distribution and sale of such goods is prohibited and punishable by up to two years imprisonment (Section 175).8

In 2002, according to a report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), a law was passed that prohibits the registration of NGOs if their activities "are not in the public interest or contradict a written law". This affects many organizations that support homosexual men. The ILGA report dates from 2017.9

1 Deutsches Auswärtiges Amt: Tansania – Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise
2 GOV.UK: Foreign Travel Advice: Tanzania
3 ILGA: State Sponsored Homophobia – Report, 12th Edition, May 2017
4 Die Zeit: Homophobie – 200 angeblich Homosexuellen droht in Tansania Strafverfolgung
5 Human Rights Watch: World Report 2018, Tanzania Events 2017
6 UN: Tanzania Penal Code

Text: Johanna Feckl