Three South African lawyers were arrested and then deported by the country of Tanzania after they were accused of promoting homosexuality.
The arrests come after a speech in late September by Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kingwangalla, who vowed in front of parliament to “fight with all our strength against groups supporting homosexuality in our country,” AFP news agency reports.
The three lawyers were among 13 people arrested on October 17 for taking part in a meeting to discuss challenging a law stopping private health clinics from providing HIV and Aids services.
Lazaro Mambosasa, chief of Dar es Salaam police, told reporters after the lawyers initial arrests that “they were promoting homosexuality”.
Sibongile Ndashe one of the lawyers involved says they had no right to arrest them, and has accused authorities in Dar es Salaam of holding her and her colleagues “hostage”. Their demands to see the grounds on which they were deported were ignored.
Ndashe, was deported along with two colleagues from South Africa’s Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) on Friday, told a press conference there was no crime they could be charged with, as the meeting was not about homosexuality.
The group now intends to sue.
Tanzania borders Kenya and Uganda and has a population of 55.5 million people.
In Tanzania, sex acts between men are illegal and carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Sex acts between women are not mentioned specifically in mainland Tanzanian law. The semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar outlaws same-sex sexual acts between women with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or a 500,000 shilling fine.
Source: BBC News