THE BLOG

Ethiopia to Hold Mass Anti-Gay Protests to Combat 'Homosexual Agenda'

03/04/2014 10:15 BST | Updated 02/06/2014 10:59 BST

Addis Ababa's municipality has approved yesterday (1 April) a mass antigay protest to be held in Ethiopia's capital later this month, according to the Ethiopian Reporter.

The Addis Ababa Youth Forum (AAYF), a group linked to the ruling party in Ethiopia, in collaboration with Weyneye Abune Teklehaimanot (WAT), an Ethiopian Orthodox Church association, will hold a protest "Against Foreign Culture and Homosexuality" on the 26 April from 8 to 11 am.

The organizers stated that the aim of the protest is to alert the government and society to the "severity" of the "homosexual agenda" in the country, so that the existing antigay laws can be tightened.

The Ethiopian Reporter also stated that government officials will join the protests and carry similar demonstrations throughout the country: "representatives from different government bureaus and religious institutions, who had been supporting this event, would also partake in the rally, and that such events will not be limited to the capital but there's a plan to take on federal and state levels."

The mass demonstration is reportedly backed by government institutions such as "the Addis Ababa City Culture and Tourism Bureau, Addis Ababa Labor and Social Affairs Bureau, Women, Youth and Children Affairs Bureau and the Addis Ababa Police Commission," according to the Chairman of AAYF.

Both AAYF and WAT have previously alleged that "sodomite violence that is being committed against minors."

WAT has also previously produced a video alleging same-sex acts are linked to the advent of the anti-Christ and "the end of the world".

According to Daniel Berhane of the Horn Affairs blog this is part of anti LGBT measures and "gay-bashing rhetoric" that are on the way, in preparation to "the run up to the election next year."

Addis Ababa municipality officers are also planning to provide anti-LGBT seminars to youth across the capital to provide "awareness" on "the dangers posed to children by homosexuality."

The linkage of LGBT issues to paedophilia has been recently stepped up in Ethiopia's press that frequently publishes interviews with Evangelical anti-gay preacher, Dr. Antonious Seyoum.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Ethiopia are expected any-time now, to pass into law a bill that would make same-sex acts a non-pardonable offence.

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

In addition, under its anti-terrorism law anyone who states what the government deems terrorism (which can include human rights criticism) can be imprisoned for 20 years, without a warrant.

Ethiopia's anti-advocacy law bars charities and non-governmental organizations that receive more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad 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.

26 year-old Bereket, an Ethiopian gay rights blogger commented on the move: "While I believe in freedom of expression and speech the protest's message borders on incitement to hate and deliberate misinformation.

"Would the government, by the same token now cease with its repression and allow LGBT awareness and diversity training? Support services?

"Is the government ready and willing to protect the LGBT community from the aftermath of gay-bashing that is likely to ensue due to the climate of fear and persecution that this demonstration will create?"