Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania, and sentences can range up to thirty years in prison.
Even so, Finland will not stop sending aid money to the country, which is scheduled to receive some 52 million euros between 2016 and 2019.
“When there is this kind of concerning situation in the country, it isn’t any kind of ‘business as usual’ situation for us,” said Theresa Zitting of the ministry’s Africa desk. “But we don’t feel that we want to touch development spending right now.”
Denmark announced on Thursday that it was cutting aid spending in Tanzania after homophobic comments by the regional commissioner.
Zitting says that Finland is concerned about human rights in the country. She says that Finland’s goal is to deepen and broaden co-operation and to try and improve the human rights situation, but adds any cuts in aid spending would hurt the public.
Zitting said that Finnish aid spending is focused on increasing employment in the forest products sector, governmental reform, tax collection and women’s participation in politics.
Zitting regards Makonda’s comments as one populist politician’s campaign, which is already showing signs of subsiding. The Tanzanian government has not shown any signs of joining the rhetoric, according to Zitting.
“Thankfully Makonda has not gained the support of large sectors of the population,” said Zitting. “Of course we hope that it will remain his own personal project that will wither away.”
Regarding disallowing pregnant school girls, Zitting says Tanzanians have tried to explain that they provide schooling in some other way for these girls.
“We’ll keep an eye on this in the future,” said Zitting.