A University don has called upon Tanzanians to fight against external pressure to legalise homosexuality, saying it was unacceptable for the country to condone criminal laws simply because it is poor.
Bagamoyo University Vice Chancellor Dr Sengondo Mvungi made the remarks on Friday while making a presentation on the need for a new constitution at a workshop organised by the SAHRINGON Tanzania Chapter.
He said there was no way that homosexuality could be included in the country’s constitution process, saying even countries which were pressing for that in Tanzania were yet to include it in their constitutions.
He said incorporating homosexuality into the coming constitution would mislead the nation because it was against the country’s culture and morals.
His remarks follow a question by The Guardian over whether he felt there was a need to incorporate a specific section that will prohibit homosexuality in the country.
“There is a need to do research to establish the magnitude of the problem although it is still not one of the main challenges or priorities in our country. The current situation indicates that there may only be one out of over 100 people who may be gay,” said the Dr Mvungi.
“We cannot condone homosexuality because doing so will turn us into a nation of people with poor thinking capacity. Homosexuality is a disease that needs treatment. It is not something to embrace,” said the don.
Dr Mvungi who is a board member of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) said they once rejected funds from donors who wanted the centre to advocate for gays rights, telling them that it was not among the country’s priorities.
Fatma Tawfiq who runs an NGO in the country said she once had a donor who used to fund her but all of a sudden told her that to continue enjoying funding, her organisation would have to advocate for gays rights.
“I refused to accept such conditions and they eventually withdrew their support,” she said.
On Friday, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe was quoted as saying Tanzania was ready to end diplomatic ties with Britain if it imposes conditions on the assistance it provides to press for adoption of laws on homosexual rights.
Membe said UK’s demands are against Tanzania’s cultural traditions and laws.
Membe said Tanzania is ready for any eventuality for the sake of protecting the country’s dignity and respect of its people.
His statement came following a statement made last week by the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron who announced that the UK would cut aid to countries, which have failed to respect gay rights.
Cameron raised the issue with some of the states at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.
Meanwhile Dr Mvungi has faulted the current Constitutional Review Bill saying its Kiswahili and English versions differed.
He faulted its selection of only a few professionals to the commission while leaving out some important groups.
He questioned the justification of the president appointing the constituent assembly saying such an organ should be left in the hands of the people.
“There is no need for the commission to incorporate public servants as part of its team. Rather use one’s expertise as major criteria. It should also include representatives from the private sector such as farmers associations and trade unions among others,” he said.
Accord to him, the new constitution should return land ownership to the people because currently Tanzanians are tenants.
“The constitution is not a book but rather a job description for our leaders on how they should govern the country,” he said.