Last edited: August 21, 2004

Zanzibar Gay Sex Ban Official, August 20, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

Zanzibar—A law imposing a prison term of up to 25 years for anyone convicted of having gay sex has gone into effect in Zanzibar, an archipelago off the east African coast.

While gay men could be sentenced to a quarter century behind bars the penalty for lesbian sex is seven years. The gay sex sentence is the same as that for murder.

The law went into effect this week after it was signed by president, Amani Karume. Zanzibar’s parliament, in a rare show of unity, passed the bill unanimously in April.

“There is no difference between sodomy and murder,” said Sheikh Muhammed Said, a Zanzibar Islamic leader.

“This is what we have been aspiring for,” he said of the penalties.

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

International human rights groups have condemned the new law and travel agencies, mainly in South Africa, have threatened to boycott Zanzibar, which relies heavily on tourism revenue.

[Home] [World] [Tanzania]