Makonda was anticipating backlash from people who lived outside Tanzania, but said that he would “prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
Makonda said the goal is to eradicate prostitution and homosexuality. He said in a press conference Wednesday that the public sent police the names of more than 200 people and he announced the names of some who were frequently named. He said some people had been accused of being homosexual because their walking style was deemed "gay."
Tanzania has had a reputation for being more tolerant than its neighbour Uganda but since President John Magufuli came to power three years ago campaigners say the little protection, representation and freedom LGBT people have is being slowly eroded. In June last year Magufuli said that "even cows" disapprove of homosexuality.
A government taskforce will now begin hunting down and arresting people who are, or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI), detainee’s face a prison sentence of 30 years. Under British colonial-era laws homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, with same-sex acts between men punishable by a maximum life sentence. Tanzania is one of 37 previously colonized Commonwealth nations that still uphold colonial sodomy laws.
Tanzania has a poor record of respecting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people. The government has in the past raided organizations working on health issues for men who have sex with men, threatening to close them down.
In October 2016, a Ministry of Health directive suspended provision of HIV/AIDS services and ordered the closure of AIDS clinics for providing services to LGBTI people. In that clamp-down, the authorities arrested and prosecuted people for same-sex relations, subjecting them to forced anal examinations, a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can amount to torture.
In October 2017, 13 health and human rights activists, including two South Africans and one Ugandan, were arrested and detained by Tanzanian authorities for ‘promoting homosexuality’ in Tanzania.
The news highlights the prevalence of anti-gay laws in Africa, where 34 countries ban gay sexual relations.