Zanzibar to Outlaw Homosexuality
Reuters, April 14, 2004
By Ally Salleh
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
“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
The bill has been supported by the Society for Islamic
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.
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