After a tip about a same-sex wedding, ten men have reportedly been arrested in Tanzania, according to Amnesty International.
Police raided the wedding at Pongwe Beach and detained the men while six others fled the scene. The men are being held at Chakwal police station in Unguja, despite no charges having yet been made against them.
The men were arrested for allegedly conducting a gay marriage, with police saying the men were sitting in pairs “two by two.”
“It’s mind-boggling that the mere act of sitting in a pair can assume criminal proportions,” said Amnesty International’s East Africa Deputy Director, Seif Magango. “The police clearly have no grounds to file charges against these men in court, despite arresting them three days ago.”
Both gay marriage and gay sex are illegal in Tanzania, with a punishment of life imprisonment.
These arrests come days after Tanzanian Governor Paul Makonda announced his plan to form a government taskforce to hunt down and arrest LGBTQ individuals. The Tanzanian Government distanced itself from these remarks, calling them a “personal opinion.”
Magango called for the release of the men by Tanzanian authorities.
“This is a shocking blow following the Tanzanian government’s assurance that no one would be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said. “This appalling attack on Tanzanian people simply exercising their human rights shows the danger of inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric at senior levels of government.”
“We now fear these men may be subjected to forced anal examination, the government’s method of choice for ‘proving’ same-sex sexual activity among men,” the deputy director continued. “This must not be allowed to happen – these men must be released immediately.”