Will Another Anti-Gay Law Come to Tanzania?

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Although Tanzania already has an anti-gay law that sentences those found guilty of homosexuality activity to 20 years to life in prison, a member of the East Africa country's parliament is drafting a new bill that would go further, Gay Star News reports.

Ezekiel Wenje of the main opposition party Chama Cha Democrasia na Maendeleo, says homosexuality is increasing in Tanzania because the country's current law isn't strong enough. He said he wants Tanzania to mirror Uganda's highly controversial new Anti-Homosexuality Act, which sentences gays to death.

Wenje wants his the law to punish people who "induce others" to become gay or "promote" homosexuality, according to the East African.

"In line with parliament's Standing Orders, I submitted my proposal for enactment of a new anti-gay law called The Bill to Prohibit and Control any form of Sexual Relations between Persons of the Same Sex, 2014, and it has been received in parliament," he told the newspaper.

He said that the work to draft the bill has started and that he is "being supported by MP's from my party; I also have the support from other parties including Chama Cha Mapinduzi."

A spokesman for Stay Awake Network Activities, a leading LGBT organization in Tanzania, told Gay Star News Wenje's measure get the approval it needs to become law.

"It will never happen. It is totally different to Uganda here," he said. "Our government is quiet on this issue. They have no problem with us as long as we keep a low profile."

He said Wenje's bill comes at a time when the country is considering a new constitution, so lawmakers will have to prioritize other issues.

"Sometimes a few politicians will use us to get votes. But it is the media that is our biggest problem. They write negatively about us and promote stigmatization," he said.