Ethiopia returns to her senses on the Gay issue
By Daniel Berhane
The last two months have seen an escalation of anti-gay rhetoric in the Ethiopian media.
Local anti-gay activists, who are thought to be funded by American Christian fundamentalists, stepped up their activities after the controversial tweet by a senior official two months ago. The tweet by the Minister of Youth, Women and Children, denouncing Uganda’s recent anti-gay legislation – which she later retracted with a vague and unconvincing claims of “hacking”. Later, she deleted her twitter account all together.
The incident apparently emboldened anti-gay activism which has been low-key for about four years, besides to the seldom alarmist news and articles on local papers.
Days after the controversial tweet, however, a youth group, affiliated to the ruling party, and a religious grouping, under the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, jointly announced their plan to hold an anti-gay rally in the capital city at an undisclosed date.
For once, nothing made sense.
In fact, at the time, I was bold enough to tell two correspondents of western media (from Reuters and Radio France International) that the planned anti-gay rally won’t take place.
My logic was simple: Ethiopia has already got a Crime Code that punishes same-sex practice of two consenting adults with up to three years imprisonment. Though, the law enforcement agencies largely ignored such cases. Where there is an aggravating ground – involving a child or rape or coercion, etc. – the punishment could reach up to fifteen years of imprisonment. In those circumstances, even foreign NGOs were not spared from the prosecution.
So, why would the government wish to stir emotions? Especially a public demonstration will put the government in a difficult situation of having to launch a witch-hunt or be accused of leniency. Not to forget that, in a highly conservative country like Ethiopia, one can have any sort of anti-gay legislation passed without having to agitate the public. Read more from hornaffairs