The US is warning its citizens against Tanzania's anti-gay crackdown

The US is warning its citizens against Tanzania's anti-gay crackdown

The US embassy in Tanzania has warned American citizens and potential travelers about planned action against LGBT people in the East African country, which criminalises homosexuality.

In a news release posted on its website on Saturday, the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, called on citizens to "check" their social media profiles for content that violated local law could. The embassy recommended that travelers "remove or protect images and language that might violate homosexual practices and explicit sexual activities in Tanzania".

The message comes from mounting threats against LGBT people in Tanzania, where men convicted of homosexuality face up to 30 years in prison.

Since assuming power in 2015, President John Magufuli has overseen the crackdown on sexual minority rights. A travel warning from the US embassy in January 2018 stated that "members of the LGBTI community have been arrested, charged, harassed and / or charged with unrelated offenses."

Last week, Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda reportedly announced a special committee to investigate and discipline homosexuals. "If you know gays, let me know," Makonda told CNN.

The Tanzanian Foreign Ministry denied the support of the campaign, saying that Makonda's comments were "his own views," Reuters said.

Amnesty International described Makonda's task force as "extremely regrettable."

"The government has a duty to protect everyone in Tanzania and uphold their human rights without discrimination," said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty Regional Director for East Africa, in a statement. "They must take this commitment seriously and not initiate programs or use government agencies to rob LGBTI people of their rights."

LGBT rights are not supported by the population in Tanzania. A 2007 global Pew study found that 95% of Tanzanians said that homosexuality should be "rejected" among the highest of the 45 countries surveyed.

Write to Eli Meixler at eli.meixler@timeinc.com.

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