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Ethiopia's Orthodox Church Vows To Fight Gays

21/04/2014 13:44 BST | Updated 17/06/2014 10:59 BST

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -- Patriarch Abune Mathias, head of Ethiopia's Orthodox Church, vowed to fight homosexuality, saying it will bring destruction, during his Easter message, on Wednesday.

During his Easter blessing Mathias warned that the "sin that burnt Sodom and Gomorrah in Ethiopia not only erodes the holiness that God has bestowed upon Ethiopians, but it will bring destruction and damage rather than development and growth.

"To prevent this I call upon all Ethiopians to fight this grand sin of Sodom persistently," he added.

"I would like to confirm to all Ethiopian that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church will fight this grand sin fiercely to the end.

"It is outside of God's and Nature's laws. Everyone should resist it. It is unnatural. It is condemned in the bible."

The Patriarch a history of anti-gay slurs, he previously has taken to Facebook last year stating: "Homosexuality is not natural and we in Ethiopia must not accept this ungodly behavior."

A planned anti-gay rally by Weyneye Abune Teklehaimanot a group associated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been cancelled, according to Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman. .

Redwan also stated that a bill to add gay sex to a list of crimes not eligible for presidential pardons has been dropped by Ethiopia's legislators.

Ethiopia has already a harsh anti-gay law which punish same-sex acts with up to 15 years imprisonment.

A 25-year jail term is given to anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

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 nongovernmental 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.

Essentially these laws taken in total make it impossible for any health-services, charity, advocacy or even clubs or bars to openly support or cater for Ethiopia's LGBT population.