Hundreds of LGBTQ people in Tanzania have gone into hiding as authorities in the city of Dar es Salaam begin their anti-gay crackdown.
The city’s governor, Paul Makonda, last week called on the public to report anyone they suspect of being LGBTQ as part of a campaign to round them all up.
Since the announcement more than 5,000 people have been reported to the police, with at least 100 people having been identified as LGBTQ.
“They are raiding houses. It is a horrible thing. It is just going to get worse,” one LGBTQ activist – who wishes to remain anonymous for their safety – told The Guardian.
“So many people are leaving the city, running away. They are targeting the activists, saying we are promoting homosexuality. We have to hide.”
The atmosphere in the city was described as “open season on gay people” by another activist, with lists of names posted across social media as an attempt to out LGBTQ people.
“You can imagine what that is doing to people, to families,” they added.
Makonda has previously said that the lives of these people being rounded up will not be in jeopardy, but added that they will be ‘cured’.
“We have a team of doctors and psychologists to help them to change,” he is reported to have said.
All major medical bodies have ruled that the practice of conversion therapy is ineffective and is actually harmful to the person who is subjected to it.
Sexual orientation cannot be changed, and there is absolutely no scientific or medical evidence to prove otherwise.
In fact, conversion therapy is considered a form of torture by almost all mainstream medical and scientific organisations.
The Tanzanian government have distanced themselves from Makonda’s actions, but are taking no steps to prevent his anti-LGBTQ crackdown from happening.
If a person is found guilty of homosexual activity in Tanzania, they currently face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The laws against homosexuality in place in Tanzania are a hangover from a colonial-era legal system forced upon them by the British Empire.
Last year, Tanzania president John Magufuli made the ridiculous claim that even cows oppose homosexuality during one of his many homophobic rants.
“Those who teach such things do not like us, brothers,” Magufuli said of LGBTQ people and activists. “They brought us drugs and homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of.”
What’s more, there have been calls for newspapers to publish the names of gays and lesbians, while some officials have also recommended forced anal examinations of suspected homosexuals.
Back in 2017, the Health Ministry also closed a number of HIV/AIDS clinics in the country as they claimed they were being used to promote gay sex.