Zanzibar Outlaws Gay, Lesbian Sex
April 15, 2004
By Ben Townley, Gay.com U.K.
SUMMARY: Despite facing international condemnation
after introducing the proposal last month, Zanzibar’s parliament has passed
a bill that will make homosexuality illegal.
Despite facing international condemnation after
introducing the proposal last month, Zanzibar’s parliament has passed a bill
that will make homosexuality illegal.
The island, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania situated
in the Indian Ocean, introduced the bill in March, claiming it was an attempt
to stem the acceptance of lesbians and gays.
Politicians said at the time that the laws would also
make sure the island was kept out of the debate over same-sex marriages
currently being tackled across Europe and North America.
Now, gay men found guilty of “homosexual relations”
will face up to 25 years in jail. Lesbian relationships will be punished by
The move follows the growth of Islam on the island, and
the government has faced criticism in the past for giving in to religious
hardliners. The bill was backed by the Society of Islamic Awareness, and some
commentators have noted a change in religious attitudes in the Zanzibar
It also exemplifies the existing homophobia in some
African countries. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe regularly attacks gay
rights internationally, once accusing Prime Minister Tony Blair of running a
The new law must now be passed by President Amani Karume,
although he is expected to back it since it received overwhelming support of
the major two political parties in the country’s House of Representatives.
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