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Monday 10 April 2017

Tanzania: New Barriers to HIV Prevention:

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 5th August 2016

Tanzania's Health Minister is about to ban lubricants, given that they are said to 'facilitate' gay sex in a country where it is illegal. What is the background of this country and its LGBTI community?

Tanzania was both a German and British African colonial territory from the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, before the former colonial areas of Tanganyika and Zanzibar became independent in 1954 and formed the United Republic of Tanzania. For much of its early independence, it was ruled by Julius Nyerere and took a turn toward socialism in 1967, when many of its industries were nationalised. China provided considerable foreign aid during this period, helping to construct a transnational road from Dar es Salaam to neighbouring Zambia during the early seventies. The nation has experienced economic growth since implementing International Monetary Fund reforms and in 1992, the former one party state transitioned peacefully to multiparty democratic parliamentary rule. In 1995, the first multiparty elections consolidated the rule and legitimacy of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party, which held three quarters of Tanzania's parliamentary seats. The most recent Tanzanian election was held in 2010 and elected John Magufuli as President. There is a thirty percent mandatory quota for all parliamentary parties that reserve that proportion of seats for female MPs. Tanzania has chilly relations with neighbouring Malawi and Rwanda and generally good relations with foreign aid donors in the European Union, China, Japan and the United States. It is a member of the East African Community, Southern African Development Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. On the negative side, rural child malnutrition and poverty are widespread and government corruption is endemic, particularly when it comes to distribution of electricity supplies.

Equal proportions of Tanzanians are either Christian or Muslim. Out of forty four million Tanzanians, two million are estimated to be living with HIV. In 2012, the Tanzanian Commission for AIDS, Tanzanian National Bureau for Statistics, US Agency for International Development and Tanzanian Ministry of Health collaborated to produce the Tanzanian HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator 2011-2012. In Tanzania, more women are HIV+ than men in most jurisdictions. Sex workers, miners, police officers, prisoners, transport workers, members of the armed forces and intravenous drug users are said to be at particular risk. Unfortunately, Tanzania's poverty, government corruption and neoliberal contraction of government health services have hampered widespread national HIV prevention efforts.

HIV prevention efforts are further hampered by the strongly negative attitudes held against LGBT individuals within Tanzania. In 2005, a US Pew Social Attitudes survey indicated that ninety five perent of those sampled indicated that homosexuality should not be tolerated within Tanzania. Since 1945, the Tanzanian Penal Code has outlawed sex between men within Sections 138A (gross indecency: gay non-anal sex), 145 (unnatural offences- sex 'against the course of nature"), 155 (attempt to commit unnatural offences) and 157 (attempts to commit gross indecency). While mainland Tanzania does not criminalise lesbian sex, the administrative area of Zanzibar does. Under the Zanzibar Penal Code of 1934, Sections 132 and 150-154 have analogous meanings to the mainland. Section 153 specifically criminalises lesbianism and was enacted in 2004. Section 158 criminalises same-sex marriages. In 2013, the US State Department found no facilities for HIV treatment for men who have sex with men, and also found that law enforcement authorities regularly tortured and undertook violence against Tanzanian LGBT community members. In 2011, during a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Tanzania's government refused to decriminalise male homosexuality (or lesbianism as well in the case of Zanzibar), despite Cameron administration threats to withhold foreign aid.

As if the above weren't enough of a problem, on 22 July 2016, it was announced that the Tanzanian Health Minister was trying to ban sales of lubricant within her country. Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu argued that provision of lube "encouraged homosexuality" through facilitating gay sex, stating that: "It is true the govenment has banned use and importation of the jelly to curb the spread of HIV. I have instructed stakeholders working with HIV to remove the products from the market." Mwalimu said that the money would "instead" be spent on hospital beds, although given Tanzania's high level of internal government corruption, that assertion is indeed doubtful.


Wikipedia/Tanzania: Tanzania

Wikipedia/HIV/AIDS in Tanzania: IV/AIDS_in_Tanzania

Wikipedia/LGBT rights in Tanzania: LGBT_rights_in_Tanzania

Joseph McCormick: "Tanzania tries to ban lube in an attempt to stop encouraging people to be gay"Pinknews:22.07.2016:http://www. tanzania-tries-to-ban-lube-in- attempt-to-stop-encouraging- people-to-be-gay/

Scott Roberts: "Tanzania: Police accused by Human Rights Watch of sexually assaulting LGBT citizens": Pinknews: 20.06.2013:http://www. tanzania-police-accused-by- human-rights-watch-of- sexually-assaulting-lgbt- citizens/

Craig Young - 5th August 2016

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