NAIROBI — Banning lube and forcing men suspected of being gay of having anal exams for evidence of penetration are among common practices in Tanzania that have outraged international rights groups.
Human Rights Watch this week issued a report that calls on government officials to reverse these policies, end arbitrary arrests of LGBT people and ban forced anal exams used as “spurious” evidence of gay activity.
The 112-page report, “‘If We Don’t Get Services We Will Die’: Tanzania’s Anti-LGBT Crackdown and the Right to Health,” documents how since 2016 the government of Tanzania has cracked down on LGBT people and the community-based organizations that serve them.
The Health Ministry in mainland Tanzania has prohibited community-based organizations from conducting outreach on HIV prevention to men who have sex with men and other key populations vulnerable to HIV. It closed drop-in centers that provided HIV testing and other targeted and inclusive services and banned the distribution of lubricant, essential for effective condom use for HIV prevention among key populations and much of the wider public.
The Health Ministry claims that the specialized services and provision of lubricant promote homosexuality. It says that public health centers provide discrimination-free services so that there is no need for specialized services run by civil society organizations. Human Rights Watch research found, however, that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in government health centers is common.
The report is based largely on interviews conducted with 35 self-identified LGBT Tanzanians between May 2018-June 2019.