Denmark are withholding 65m krone ($AU13.5 million) in aid to Tanzania after “unacceptable homophobic comments” from a senior politician, a Danish minister has said.
Late last month, Paul Makonda, commissioner for populous city Dar es Salaam, announced plans to form a taskforce to hunt down LGBTIQ people, urging the public to pass the names of suspected gay men to the police.
Now Danish Development Minister Ulla Tornaes has said she was concerned by the “homophobic” statements and the country would withdraw aid.
“I am very concerned about the negative developments in Tanzania. Most recently the totally unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I have therefore decided to withhold DKK 65m in the country. Respect for human rights is crucial for Denmark.”
Denmark is Tanzania’s second biggest aid donor.
At the time, Makonda said that gay sex “tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians and our two Christian and Muslim religions.”
Makonda said he was anticipating backlash from people outside Tanzania, but he would “prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
The Tanzanian government initially responded to Makonda’s comments by saying they were his “personal opinions” and not government policy but stopped short of condemning them.
Earlier this month, ten men were arrested on suspicion of being gay on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar after police raided a same-sex wedding.
Homophobia rife in the country
Under British colonial-era laws, homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania with gay sex punishable with 30 years prison to a life sentence.
The country’s penal code criminalises anyone who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” and homophobia is rife in the country.
Anti-LGBTIQ sentiment and arrests of LGBTIQ increased since Tanzanian President John Magufuli came into power in 2015, according to human rights groups.
Last year, Amnesty International said there had been “an unprecedented crackdown” on gay people in Tanzania.
The group said authorities had subjected people suspected of being gay to “forced anal examinations, a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that can amount to torture.”
In 2016, Tanzanian authorities devastated HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in the country by banning sexual lubricants and shutting down private HIV/AIDS health clinics, saying they encouraged gay sex.