I spent a semester in Tanzania in the Fall of 2006, and it was an interesting experience for a number of reasons. One thing that added to it was the month I was lucky enough to spent in Kenya three years earlier, which gave me a limited ability to compare the two countries. In both trips, I spent some time as a paying guest in people’s homes, and some time in more tourist-oriented scenarios. My trip in 2003 was with my parents, as part of the work my mother was doing with Quakers in Kenya at the time, so I spent a lot more time in religious services there, and had the astonishing experience of seeing a Quaker church designed to seat thousands. For comparison, the largest Quaker meeting (church) in New England has somewhere between 300 and 400 members, last I checked, with closer to 100-200 attending any given meeting for worship. In Tanzania, I went to one Catholic service, and one Lutheran service. So it’s possible I missed out on some preached homophobia in Tanzania that would have matched what I saw in Kenya.
Kenya was my first experience with kind, thoughtful Quakers, who also preached fire and brimstone about homosexuality. It was a deeply uncomfortable experience, and I can only imagine what it is like for anybody who’s not cisgender and heterosexual to visit. In Tanzania, the subject basically never came up at all, at least in my experience, with one exception. In one of the homes I stayed in, the television was on non-stop. It was the home of an important figure in the local Lutheran church, and most of what was playing on TV was an endless succession of Christian music videos, most of which were pushing the prosperity gospel bullshit. Certainly, my host had profited from religion. There were also a number of movies with a heavily Christian theme. One in particular is on my mind today, in which a young woman, engaged to be married, turns out to have a relationship with another woman, who fits just about every shitty stereotype bigoted Christians have about lesbians. Basically, she ends up getting caught and rejected by everybody, the wedding is broken off, she is left miserable and alone, and we’re all supposed to feel good about this.
In that context, it’s disappointing, but not surprising to see that apparently someone in the government of Tanzania decided that banning lube was a good idea It’s also disappointing that gay sex (only between men) is punishable by life imprisonment in Tanzania. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know that until today.
The claim is that this law is to combat the spread of HIV by halting homosexual sex. Aside from this being another example of bigoted morons thinking that gay men always have anal sex, and that straight people never have anal sex – and passing LAWS based on that delusion – I expect this law to cause an increase in infection, if anything. No lube doesn’t mean no sex, it means the sex that people do have is more likely to cause internal tearing, both in cases of anal sex, and in situations where women are forced to have “dry” sex. That means open wounds, potentially blood, and so increased risk of all sorts of infections. Unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex all carry a risk of HIV transmission, and anal seems to have a higher risk, but the solution to that is MORE lube, and condoms.
Getting rid of lube will make life better for precisely NOBODY, and will make life worse for a whole lot of people. I suppose this is a minor thing compared to life imprisonment for having sex, but it’s going to cause real harm all by itself, and it’s another example of how ignorance, bigotry, and stupidity drive people to do harm not only to those they hate, but to everyone else, just so they can twist the knife a little bit more.
For more information on the pros and cons of different types of lubes, I’ll turn you over to Laci Green:
For the vision/hearing impaired, there are a number of links to useful resources below the video.