On Nov 8, 2016 Erasing 76 Crimes reported: Tanzania is intensifying its denial of health care for LGBTI citizens in the wrong-headed belief that doing so will reduce homosexuality.
Late last month, Tanzania’s health minister announced the suspension of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for gay men. Without such programs, a higher rate of HIV infection is likely among men who have sex with men, which includes many who also have sex with women, to whom they will continue to spread HIV.
The latest move follows September’s threat to ban Tanzanian groups working for LGBTI rights and July’s crackdown on import and sales of sexual lubricants on the theory that, without them, homosexuality would decrease in Tanzania.
Also in July, regional commissioner Paul Makonda of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, announced an anti-gay police crackdown, including arrests of suspected homosexuals in night clubs and threats to arrest people who follow suspected homosexuals on social media.
HIV / AIDS has long been a beneficiary of Tanzanian homophobia. A report in 2013 documented a wide range of abuses in the health sector, including denial of services, verbal harassment, and violations of confidentiality of members of at-risk groups such as LGBTI Tanzanians. On paper, Tanzanian HIV/AIDS policy calls for efforts to reduce stigma against marginalized groups, and authorities have taken some measures to do so.
But the report by Human Rights Watch and the Wake Up and Step Forward Coalition in Tanzania (WASO) identified dozens of cases in which health workers turned away sex workers, LGBTI people, and drug users from health facilities without offering services, or publicly humiliated them.