‘Thousands of names’ handed to Tanzania authorities after public told to report gay people

There are fears for the safety of the LBGT+ community inTanzaniaafter a senior government official called on the public to report suspected homosexuals.

Authorities have already been handed thousands of names as officials declared a desire to “educate” gay people.

Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner ofDar es Salaam, announced that a 17-strong committee consisting of police, lawyers and doctors had been formed to identify homosexuals.

The committee will scour the internet to identify videos featuring supposedly gay content and warned citizens to delete any “sex pictures” they had stored on their phones or face arrest.

Mr Makonda said authorities had already been handed 18,000 messages of support for the policy from people “disturbed by moral erosion”, many of which also named individuals believed to be homosexual.

“These homosexuals boast on social networks,” the commissionertold Agence-France Presse. “Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them.”

Mr Makonda said he expected to receive international condemnation for his hardline approach, but added: “I prefer to anger those countries than to anger god.”

The commissioner is a devout Christian and a close ally of the east African country’s president, John Magufuli, who has ratcheted up anti-LGBT+ rhetoric since taking power in 2015.

Last year, the government threatened to arrest or expel gay rights activists as part of a crackdown on what the president described as “immoral behaviours”.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

TheForeign Officewarns British travellers that same-sex couples are “not tolerated in Tanzania’s conservative society”.

Public displays of affection such as holding hands or kissing in public could lead to arrest and imprisonment, it advises.

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