The homophobic Tanzanian President, Dr John Magufuli, has sent a belated congratulatory message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, seeking a continued close relationship between the two countries even as local gay activists kept running an online campaign against hate.
By Kikonyogo Kivumbi
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Tanzania, I congratulate President-elect@JoeBiden and Vice President-elect@KamalaHarris on your victory in the US General Election. Be assured that Tanzania will continue to cherish the relationship that exist between our countries,” President Maguli tweeted Nov. 10.
The United States sent a total of US $305.5 million in foreign aid to Tanzania in fiscal year 2020, according to the US Foreign Assistance tracker.
It is not clear how the two men will get along.
While Biden is a gay ally who sees homosexuals as good, loving people worthy of dignity, Magufuli, who was recently sworn in for a second term in office, sees homosexuals as evil.
“Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house. Couldn’t be happier, two longtime White House staffers, two great guys.” Biden tweeted in 2016 after officiating at his first same-sex marriage ceremony.
On the other hand, President Magufuli believes that goats, sheep, pigs or cattle are more morally upright than homosexual human beings. He caused amusement at a public rally during an official speech, asking herders if any of them has ever witnessed a he-goat mounting a he-goat.
President Magufuli also believes that cows and animals would approve of his strong anti-gay crackdown. The country’s harsh LGBT crackdown reached a peak in 2018.
Earlier this year, the United States banned Dar es Salaam leader Paul Makonda from visiting the U.S. because of his role in an anti-gay crackdown. The U.S. State Department said it was taking the action against Makonda, the administrative chief of the traditional Tanzanian capital, “due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”
More repression has been documented by Human Rights Watch in the build-up to the recently concluded President and general elections as earlier discussed on RightsAfrica.
The anti-gay crackdown has forced many Tanzanian LGBTQ rights activists to go into hiding, but it has not silenced advocacy such as the Tanzania-based online site Upendo ni Upendo.
Upendo ni Upendo is running a “Campaign against anti-LGBT hate, prejudice, and intolerance, and for a liberal and inclusive East Africa. We believe that everyone has the right to love and be loved. No exceptions!”
Some human rights defenders in the region believe that, despite strong anti gay rhetoric from outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration, the U.S. State Department’s action to sanction Makonda sent a strong signal to the authorities in Tanzania that fundamental human rights have bipartisan support in the U.S. Neighbouring Uganda, with its own strongly homophobic laws and policy, is set to hold its Presidential and Parliamentary election on Jan. 14, 2021.
Many homophobic countries in Africa had hoped that a homophobic Republican US president supported by evangelical Christians would give them a chance to implement homophobic laws and policies. Many such homophobic moves in Africa are directly funded by extreme evangelical Christians from the U.S., some of whom endorsed President Donald Trump for the US Presidency. Ugandan homosexuals filed a case in a U.S. court, accusing American evangelical Christian leader Scott Lively of encouraging a campaign of anti-gay violence in the East African country, as reported on Erasing 76 Crimes. The ruling can be accessed here.
Homophobic American Christian groups have been teaching African ambassadors to the United States and the United Nations how to suppress homosexual rights and freedoms on the continent.
Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.