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Anti-gay surveillance squad launched in Tanzania

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The 17-member squad will seek out same-sex couples through social media

play Anti-gay surveillance squad launched in Tanzania (Reuters)

Tanzanian authorities are set to track down and arrest gay people — who face at least 30 years in prison — after the announcement of an anti-gay surveillance squad.

Paul Makonda, governor of the country's largest city Dar es Salaam, issued the directive in a news conference.

The 17-member squad will seek out same-sex couples through social media, while the AFP quoted Mr Makonda as saying: "these homosexuals boast on social networks."

"Give me their names," he said.

"My ad-hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday."

Taboo

Male homosexuality has long been considered a moral taboo to be punished harshly.

Initially brought into being in the 19th century via German, then British colonial-era statues, the country upholds provisions outlined in the Tanzania Penal Code of 1945, stating that any person who "has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" is liable for life imprisonment or a term for at least 30 years.

Tanzania is one of 37 Commonwealth member-states that continue to uphold colonial sodomy laws, while others, such as South Africa, India and Belize, have overturned them.

International condemnation

The Tanzanian government has not previously been shaken by international condemnation.

Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said in 2017 that "those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things".

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