Anti-gay groups in Ethiopia are accusing gays of child rape as a wave of homophobic fervour spreads across Africa.
AP has reported that an anti-gay demonstration has been planned for later this month while Ethiopian lawmakers are expected to make homosexuality a non-pardonable offence.
The April 26 rally is being organised by the government-affiliated Addis Ababa Youth Forum and an Ethiopian Orthodox Church religious group, the Weyiniye Abune Tekelehaimanot Association.
At a news conference in Addis Ababa on Thursday the organisations directly linked homosexuality with child abuse, one of the malicious claims used on the continent to justify anti-gay legislation.
“Children are being raped by gay people in this country. Just yesterday we have met a woman whose boy was raped by two other men. All in all, gay acts are against health, the law, religion and our culture…” said Dereje Negash, chairman of the Weyiniye Abune Tekelehaimanot Association.
The groups also repeated the absurd but widely believed claim that homosexuality is a foreign phenomenon intrinsically alien to Africa.
“Gay practices are not our culture so we wanted the society to be aware of the danger and protect itself,” said Tsegaye Gebretsadik, chairman of the Addis Ababa Youth Forum.
Male and female same-sex sex is illegal in Ethiopia and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The proposed new bill seeks to ensure that no-one convicted of homosexuality could be pardoned by the country’s president.
Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers has supported the proposal to add homosexuality as a non-pardonable crime. Other non-pardonable offences include corruption, human-trafficking, smuggling, rape and terrorism.
The bill to amend the Pardon and Amnesty Law, which is also backed by the Ministry of Justice, could be put up for vote in parliament this month.
Uganda and Nigeria recently enacted draconian anti-gay laws and there are also efforts in the DRC, Kenya and Tanzania to bolster anti-gay legislation.
Homosexuality is already illegal in 38 African countries.