Last edited: April 18, 2004

Zanzibar to Outlaw Homosexuality

Reuters, April 14, 2004

By Ally Salleh

ZANZIBAR—Zanzibar’s parliament has unanimously passed a bill to outlaw homosexuality, with jail terms of up to 25 years for gay relationships.

It will have to be approved by President Amani Karume to become law, but a close aide to Karume said the president would assent to the bill.

“There is great concern for the erosion of moral standards in Zanzibar,” the aide said.

Islamic groups have been calling for a more puritanical approach to running public affairs on the Tanzanian Indian Ocean island, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.

The bill was adopted by members of both political parties in the House of Representatives, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi and the opposition Civic United Front – a rare occasion when the sides agreed.

The law will set a penalty of life imprisonment for a person found guilty of sodomizing a minor. The penalty for homosexual relations between men would be 25 years’ jail, with a seven-year term for a lesbian relationship.

The bill has been supported by the Society for Islamic Awareness (UAMSHO).

A Western diplomat said there were signs that Zanzibar was increasingly being pulled towards Islamism.

“The trend shows this in many respects. People in Zanzibar now take their religion very seriously,” the diplomat, who did not wish to be named, said.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island which forms part of Tanzania and has long attracted tourists seeking to relax on its beaches and sample its Swahili culture.

[Home] [World] [Tanzania]