Denmark & World Bank withhold aid to Tanzania over "unacceptable homophobic statements"

Tanzania's President John Pombe Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party at the party's sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam Tanzania

The comments in question were made by administrative chief of the capital Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, who earlier this month announced an anti-gay crackdown in the city, a spokeswoman for the Danish minister told Reuters.

Denmark is withholding US$9.8m (K7.1billion) in aid to Tanzania following anti-gay comments that Dar es Salaam governor made last month.

He said he would set up a surveillance squad to track down gay people.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

However, President Magufuli's government has also been criticised by opposition politicians and global rights groups for what they say is growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent.

In 2017, the country's deputy health minister defended a threat to publish a list of gay people.

"I am anxious about the development we've seen in Tanzania in the last three years, which has culminated in the recent homophobic comments". Most recently the totally unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner I have therefore chose to withhold DKK 65m from the country.

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"I have therefore chose to withhold DKK 65m in the country".

"Respect for human rights is of paramount importance for Denmark".

Ms Tornaes said the Danish Government was also considering diverting $8.3 million to NGOs and other partners instead of giving it to the Tanzanian Government directly.

Denmark provided 349 million crowns in foreign aid in 2018.

The Tanzanian government has not yet commented.

"I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God", he said. Ten gay men were reportedly arrested this week for attending a same-sex wedding.

Human Rights Watch said Mr Magufuli's Government "has restricted basic rights through repressive laws and decrees" targeting journalists, activists and perceived opponents.

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