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People guilty of 'unnatural offences' in Tanzania risk life imprisonment iStock

Tanzania has announced it is planning to suspend the registration of charities and organisations that support homosexuality in the country. The justice minister Harrison Mwakyembe said the ban would help protect the nation's culture.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, where same-sex acts are punishable by life imprisonment and gay couples do not have legal recognition.

Mwakyembe 's announcement came weeks after a top Tanzanian official ruled out lifting the country's ban on gay marriage, arguing that it would violate the country's cultural traditions.

Gay rights in Tanzania

Section 154 of Tanzania's penal code condemns 'unnatural offences', defined as the "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature".

It further states that people are guilty of unnatural offences if they permit a "male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature". Those found guilty of such offences risk punishments ranging from 30 years in jail to life imprisonment.

In addition, according to section 157, a male person can be sentenced to five years in prison if he, in public or private, "commits any act of gross indecency with another male, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure a male to commit an indecent act to him".

Although Tanzania does not mention a ban of same-sex acts between women, the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar does, making them punishable with five-year imprisonment or a 500,000 shilling (£175; 228) fine.

According to the organisation LGBT Voice, which works to promote tolerance and acceptance of LGBTI people in Tanzania, the east African nation has some of the toughest anti-gay laws on the continent.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch warned that, among other things, members of sexual minorities faced harassment and were subjected to human rights violations – particularly in the health sector – in Tanzania, in breach of both national and international laws.