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  • Ethiopia proposes to make homosexual acts a non-pardonable offense

    Ethiopia proposes to make homosexual acts a non-pardonable offense

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Lawmakers in Ethiopia are expected to pass into law a bill that would make same-sex acts a non-pardonable offense

    Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers last week endorsed the measure that would amend the country’s Pardon and Amnesty Law that lists homosexuality along other offenses as a non-pardonable.

    According to local sources, a vote will be called upon bill in parliament as early as next week, and normally bills endorsed by the Council are passed.

    The bill aims to curb the president’s power to pardon prisoners who committed certain “crimes,” including those imprisoned for homosexuality acts. Other offenses included in the list are corruption, human-trafficking, smuggling, rape and terrorism.

    Ethiopia’s Minister of State Getachew Bedane urged a quick vote.

    “The decision to include homosexuality in this bill is simply pure ignorance on the part of the government,” said one Ethiopian gay rights activist and blogger. “The rest of the world is decriminalizing homosexuality … because it is now being realized that sexual orientation is a basic human right too. It’s deeply troubling to see Ethiopia opting out of this global consciousness.”

    In Ethiopia, same-sex acts are illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

    Under its anti-advocacy law, charities and nongovernmental organizations that receive more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad are prohibited from participating in activities that advance human rights and the promotion of equality.

    Collectively, the laws create a dangerous environment for LGBT Ethiopians to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    “Ethiopia has already very harsh anti-LGBT laws, including a 25 year imprisonment for anyone infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts,” said a spokesperson for the advocacy group Rainbow Ethiopia, who could not be identified for fear of his family’s safety.

    “The situation, however, is getting worse as it seems the government is trying to its emulate Nigeria’s and Uganda’s anti-gay laws,” he said.

    Source: lgbtqnation.com

    DAN LITTAUER | Special to LGBTQ Nation

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  • Death penalty on way in Ethiopia for gays

    ADDIS ABABA: An anti-gay organization that held a recent workshop on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in Ethiopia is reporting that the death penalty against gay people in Ethiopia may be on the horizon.

    The workshop reportedly looked with the social ‘evils’ and ‘disastrous’ effects of homosexuality in Ethiopia, and was led by United for Life Ethiopia, a Western Evangelical Christian organization with local representation.

    Government officials, religious leaders, leading heath professionals, charities and members of the public attended the event at the Bethel Teaching Hospital in Addis Ababa, last week.

    In the workshop police alleged ‘homosexual family members and neighbors’ have sexually abused 117 boys last year.

    It comes on the heels of much antagonism toward the LGBT community in Ethiopia.

    An article recently published by Bikyanews.com has received virulent anti-gay sentiments from users inside the country. A number of comments and angry emails have been flowing in that call for the death of Ethiopia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

    “kill them all these rubbish people ,the country never allowed this kind of community,” one comment at the end of the article stated.

    In yet another, a user linked anti-LGBT sentiment to the Bible in claiming that Ethiopia’s LGBT community should leave the country or face reprisals.

    “No the same sex marriage in Ethiopia because that is the historical and Christianity country so that is the better thing …in the bible also not allow to be same sex marriage it is a big sin ..sorry for you guys who is the gay ppls …shame on you …also,” it read.

    The article detailed a young man who was hopeful that Ethiopians were becoming more accepting and open to the gay community, but the comments show that there remains a staunch anti-LGBT sentiment in the East African country.

    “Sometimes you just can get around those types of people,” David Emete, the man featured in the article, told Bikyanews.com after seeing the comments. “If they don’t understand or meet gay people, they won’t know better.”

    But the community as a whole seemed bent on attacking LGBT people.

    “Our community dont tolerate such disgusting practice, if you want to be a gay then please leave our country and practice where ever fits your bulshit place,” wrote another comment.

    BN Read more »
  • Overcoming homophobia in Ethiopia

    ADDIS ABABA: David Emete has a good job. He’s an accountant for an international firm in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. In the past three years he has risen from an intern to assistant accounting director at the company. But he says life is not easy for him. The reason: he is gay

    “Just walking down the street, many people know that I am gay and they say the worst things to me,” he told Bikyamasr.com one recent evening at a local cafe. For him, the rise in homophobia has been “shocking” as he believes Ethiopia is still a tolerant society in comparison to neighboring East African countries where being gay is punishable by death.

    “I have faith in this country and my people and so it is hard to hear what they say to me on a daily basis,” he continued.

    The worst was three weeks ago when a local youth gang attacked him, beating him in an alley after he told them to be quiet.

    “Honestly, it is shocking to me how many people know that I am gay, and it is worse still that we allow violence to happen in this day and age,” he said, adding that when he went to report the attack, which saw him break two ribs, the police laughed at him.

    “This is normal and usually we in the LGBT community don’t bother with the police, but I was injured and I thought maybe this would be different, but it wasn’t.”

    He said that the article published in local media last year likening gay men to “sex-craved addicts” was the tipping point. Since then, he believes the antagonism against him on a daily basis has risen.

    The Yenga daily wrote, in a June 18 article, that “gayness” was growing dramatically in the country and the “infestation of those carriers” are now at least 16,000 people.

    The “report” went on to argue that gay persons have an average of 75 partners annually and that this “promiscuous” nature sees some gay people have as many as 7 partners in one day.

    The article described how such “practices” are being “imported” to Ethiopia through students who receive scholarships to study in the United States and Europe.

    For Emete and others in the country it was a turning point in the anger directed at the gay community.

    “I will have to buy a car and drive to work if this keeps up because I fear that I could be killed if nothing changes,” he added.

    Source: Bikyamasr.com Read more »
  • Gay conference in Ethiopia shifts venue

    The controversial homosexual conference that sparked quite a controversy over the past week in Ethiopia has reportedly shifted its venue from its originally scheduled Jupiter Hotel in Addis to the UN Conference Center yesterday. Following the cancellation of a religious leaders’ press briefing condemning the conference last Tuesday, controversy has been raging in the capital Addis for days. The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), the organizer of the conference, noted on its website yesterday day that the new venue has been shifted to the UN Conference Center from its previous location Jupiter Hotel. However, the management of Jupiter Hotel has denied that such event was all together planned to take place there following the announcement of the group in its website earlier in the week. Roman Tafeswork, General Manager of Jupiter Hotel, responded to The Reporter's inquiries regarding the AMSHeR meeting saying that no such meeting was scheduled to be held at Jupiter Hotel and that the rumors are defamatory in nature.

    The meeting, whose theme is “Claim, scale-up, and sustain”, is a pre-conference to the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Africa (ICASA). According to the new schedule the conference will dwell on an array of agendas like health and human right issues facing homosexuals in Africa including the criminalization of consensual same-sex practice, new biomedical approach to HIV prevention and others.

    At the cancellation of the press briefing it was reported that immediately prior to the cancellation a one-hour-long closed meeting was held, which was attended by the representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the Ethiopian Catholic Church and Protestant denominations, as well as Minster of Health TewodrosAdhanom.

    African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) is a well-known gay activist group in Africa. Its website lists event speakers as including the Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibe, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, among others.

    The discussions are to focus on health and human rights issues facing gays.

    These events have sparked unprecedented controversy in Addis Ababa and among the Ethiopian community at large including online forums and websites.

    The Ethiopian Criminal Code criminalizes homosexuality.

    By Asrat Seyoum and Haile Mulu
    EthiopianReporter Read more »
  • Gay conference in Ethiopia may face ban

    Religious leaders and government authorities in Ethiopia have ended a meeting on November 29, with an apparent dispute over how to and whether or not ban an upcoming continental gay conference scheduled to be held in Addis Ababa.

    Just a day before the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) opens, about 200 gays as well as UN and U.S. officials are expected to gather at Addis Ababa’s Jupiter International Hotel, on December 3 to discuss what the organizers call men having sex with men (MSM) issues.

    Organized by African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), the meeting dubbed  ‘Claim, Scale-up, and Sustain’  seeks to  increase attention on MSM and HIV related issues in Africa, to reflect on the state of the response in MSM communities in Africa and to identify ways forward for scaling up MSM and HIV interventions, according to News from Africa website.

    Religious leaders from Ethiopian Muslim Council, the Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches have called a press conference to oppose the gay conference. While they were expected to ask for the banning of the conference Health Minister, Tewodros Adhanom, showed up for what later turned to be an hour long meeting behind closed doors.

    “The Minister came to convince the religious leaders to call off the press conference as the government believes it would affect the ICASA turnout,” an informed source said. “In return, the minister may offer to quietly cancel the gay conference.”

    At the end of the meeting neither the minister nor religious leaders spoke about what they agreed on. With signs of disappointment on their faces, religious leaders told journalists “the press conference has been postponed to undetermined date.”

    If not cancelled, a number of speakers including UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Eric Goosby, and current Chairperson of the Committee for the Protection of the rights of PLHIV, Reine Alapini – Gansou, are expected at the gay conference. They are set to discuss health and human rights issues facing gays, including criminalization of same-sex practices.

    Ethiopia’s criminal law strictly prohibits any form of homosexuality on grounds that they are against country’s cultural norms and astray normal sexual practices. Homosexual or same sex marriage and unethical activities in the country are considered as criminal and the person who is engaged in such activity would be imprisoned from 3 to 10 years.

    Exactly three years ago, Ethiopian religious leaders gathered to lobby lawmakers to enact a constitutional ban on homosexuality. The clerics said the current laws were inadequate.

    Abune Paulos, head the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said then that Ethiopia’s special place in biblical traditions means a firm stance is warranted. “We strongly condemn this behaviour. They have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be given a lesson,” he said.

    His idea was shared by other religious leaders who attended the December 2008 meeting.

    Dr. Seyoum Antonios, Executive Director of United for Life Ethiopia – a local NGO – had said a tough stance is timely as some visitors come and engage in sex tourism and the prostitution business is also experiencing changes. According to him, the practice was a new phenomenon brought about with the increased exposure to globalizing trends, adding that orphans are especially at risk as they do not have proper family protection.

    The religious leaders deemed homosexuality part of “cultural colonization” and a sign the new generation is “loosening”. They cited preaching in religious institutions, schools, societal institutions and societal out-casting as key to ensuring the practice does not become widespread.

    The final resolution of the meeting had called on Ethiopian lawmakers to act forcefully against homosexuals: “We urge parliamentarians to endorse a ban on homosexuality in the constitution.”

    Homosexuality is illegal in about 80 countries throughout the world and nine countries prescribe death as a punishment.

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