Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia

Anti-gay groups have accused an LGBT Ethiopian HIV/Aids organisation of being a “foreign agent” and have called for legal action to be taken against gay people.

A media affiliate of Rainbow-Ethiopia HIV and Social Support Services has reported that it is being targeted by homophobic civil society and religious groups and local government officials.

It said that at a conference last week “local Addis Ababa city government officials, religious leaders, United for Life Ethiopia (the leading homophobic evangelical organisation) and several youth associations accused Rainbow-Ethiopia” of spreading “homosexuality at an alarming rate in the country”.

They also “urged the federal government to take strong legal measures against foreign agents like Rainbow-Ethiopia” in order “to stop the spread of homosexuality and save the next generation from the Western imported epidemic of homosexuality”.

The August 7 conference, said Rainbow-Ethiopia, was organised to discuss “how to stop the fast and wide spread of homosexuality” and was attended by more than 2000 participants, including government officials, religious institutions, civil society representatives, prominent public figures, and community leaders.

Dr. Seyoum Antonios, the head of United For Life Ethiopia, one of the conference organisers, is known for proclaiming that “Africa will become a graveyard for homosexuality”.

He previously told Deutsche Welle in a radio interview that “local LGBTI advocacy groups like Rainbow-Ethiopia and the growing of sex tourism in the country are the major factors for importing and spreading homosexuality in the country”.

Despite vast evidence that homosexuality has always existed in Africa the idea that it is a Western ‘import’ continues to be promulgated across the continent. Ironically, most of the anti-gay legislation in Africa was put in place by former colonial powers.

Erasing 76 Crimes reported that delegates at the conference announced plans to establish a national civil society coalition to coordinate their anti-homosexuality campaign and to push for harsher and more extreme laws against LGBT people.

Rainbow-Ethiopia is the only LGBTI human rights and health organisation in Ethiopia. It “works towards [an] Ethiopia where there is no hostility against homosexuality…”

Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia with penalties including imprisonment of up to 15 years.

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