Thousands of Tanzanian LGBT citizens were put in more danger than ever this week when Paul Makonda, the governor of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, initiated a violent, homophobic manhunt on Oct. 29 that is not likely to stop within the next few days.
Under the guise of Christian and Muslim values, Makonda has made clear his mission to eradicate the LGBT population in Tanzania in a single week, encouraging citizens to report gay people to the authorities. Those who have been turned in to the police are now facing up to 30 years in prison, and gay citizens have been reportedly bound, beaten, and burned to death.
Perhaps what is most frightening of all is not the crackdown itself, but that it’s working. More than 10,000 messages have flooded in from citizens reporting LGBT people to the Tanzanian government, and police already have the names, photos, and addresses of over 100 people so far. Tanzanian police forces have even been using social media to search for and arrest LGBT people.
Tanzania is no stranger to homophobia. John Magufuli, Tanzanian President, has openly opposed LGBT people in the past with what he described as “homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of.”
But even in a country where selling lube is illegal under the premise that it promotes homosexual activity, this crackdown has been unexpectedly brutal. The violence that Tanzania has experienced thus far is eerily similar to the atrocities of the holocaust, as the Tanzanian LGBT population continues to face vicious attacks from an oppressive government.