Advice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Travellers in Zanzibar.
We are occasionally asked “What is Zanzibar like for LGBT travellers?” or is Zanzibar gay-friendly?”. To answer this question, here we’ll cover what we know from our experience, and comment on the current political situation and social attitudes.
Firstly, we’ve been sending travellers to Zanzibar since the mid-1990s, and over that time very few of our LGBT travellers have experienced problems as far as we know. This reflects our general experience that most Zanzibari people that visitors meet are very friendly, regardless of their visitors’ sexuality.
Legalities around LGBT travel in Zanzibar
The law in Tanzania and Zanzibar is not supportive any behaviour which isn’t heterosexual. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and carries a lengthy prison sentence – up to life imprisonment. Homosexual behaviour, such as kissing in public places, is not tolerated under the law and could lead to arrest. Equally, same-sex relationships are not recognised by Tanzanian law.
The LGBT community in Zanzibar and Tanzania has become increasingly marginalised over recent years. The Tanzanian government became less tolerant after the election of President Magufuli in 2015, with politicians voicing the need to protect ‘traditional’ – read heterosexual – values. The following year, in 2016, the Tanzanian government suspended AIDS programs aimed at homosexual men, with the closing of HIV clinics soon after. Since the death of Magufuli in 2021 and the election of Tanzania’s first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the prospects for human rights have improved.