Tanzania Becoming Even More Risky for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Dec 8, 2018

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Travel to the East African nation of Tanzania is becoming increasingly dangerous amid a renewed effort by the government to crack down on LGBTQ+ individuals and activity. New reports of a widespread crackdown come weeks after a statement made by the governor of the most populated region of the country, pledging to track down and arrest those in the LGBTQ+ community. Now, people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer living in Tanzania are reportedly fleeing the country or going into hiding.

Same-sex activity is illegal in Tanzania. Additionally, homosexuality is, by de facto, also illegal. Male same-sex activity and homosexuality carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years while female same-sex activity and homosexuality carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

While the ramifications for Tanzanians are clear, they are less so for travelers. The governor of the region of Dar Es Salaam, Paul Makonda, made a proclamation in late October, “I am announcing to every citizen of Dar Es Salaam: If you know any gays, report them to me.”

Young gay parents with their daughter having fun in park. Parents holding girl in arms. Enjoying in beautiful sunset. Caucasian ethnicity. (Photo by svetikd/Getty Images)
(Photo by svetikd/Getty Images)

While Tanzania is not alone in having laws punishing LGBTQ+ individuals and activity, it is one of the few countries that is stepping up enforcement of these laws. According to Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization that assists those in the LGBTQ+ community in escaping violence, the situation in Tanzania is growing increasingly dangerous.

LGBTQ+ travelers should take extreme caution should it be essential to travel to Tanzania. In addition to always registering with the STEP program via the US Department of State before traveling abroad, the department has issued a Level 2 “Exercise Increased Caution” advisory when traveling to Tanzania and notes that LGBTQ+ travelers have faced legal issues and even harassment while visiting Tanzania. For more information on LGBTQ+ travel, see The Points Guy’s post on LGBTQ+ travel.

Tanzania sees nearly 1.3 million tourists annually. Tourism is on the rise for the nation, which is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. Dar Es Salaam (DAR) is the main port of entry and currently has flights serving cities such as Amsterdam, Istanbul and Zurich. The East African nation has invested a great deal in tourism as the economy of Tanzania grows. While the country is home to some of the most remarkable safaris on the globe, LGBTQ+ travelers should look elsewhere given the recent rounds of violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and couples.

H/T: Rainbow Railroad

Featured image by Antonio Cravo / EyeEm / Getty Images

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