Gov. Paul Makonda of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania announced a witch hunt against the country's LGBTQ people on Monday by calling for them to be arrested. He is now claiming that he has received over 5,700 messages reporting "homosexuals" and "homosexual behavior" and that he has a list of over 100 LGBTQ people for arrest, reports Reuters.
Makonda is also setting up a committee of 17 people to identify LGBTQ Tanzanians on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and to report them for subsequent arrest. The move comes after Makonda told Agence France-Presse, "These homosexuals boast on social networks."
The announcement has inspired panic and fear in Tanzanian citizens.
"Since Monday, I have left my place and have been moving here and there. I am always looking over my shoulder in case they are coming for me," a 24-year-old Tanzanian identified as Nathan told Reuters. "There's so much tension within the gay community at the moment. Not just in Dar, but all over the country. We are really scared. We don't know what to do and where to go."
Nathan also told Reuters that although the policy was not to be enacted until Monday, homes were already being raided and LGBTQ people were being arrested. However, Reuters noted that his claim cannot be confirmed.
Makonda's crackdown also affects people who are sex workers. Equality Now has called on the government to condemn Makonda's statements and to hold up the law to protect LGBTQ people and sex workers in Tanzania.
"People who are LGBT and in prostitution are already frequently ostracized and face multiple levels of violence and inequality," Tsitsi Matekaire of Equality Now told Reuters. "Arresting them perpetuates this inequality, resulting in further marginalization, and damage to their well-being."
People in Tanzania are asking the rest of the world to pressure their government to abandon the anti-LGBTQ campaign and witch hunt after a previous anti-LGBTQ campaign was halted in 2016 due to foreign pressure. Tanzanian LGBTQ people and sex workers are also asking the United Nations to give them refuge in another country.