Ethiopian gays vow to have their voices heard
Last Updated: April 9, 2009
By Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Reporter)
ETHIOPIA – 09 April 2009: For the first time in Ethiopia, gay people are meeting and making concrete connections despite religious leaders in that country calling on government to, in addition to the penal code, ban homosexuality on the constitution as well.
Members of Ethioglbt are meeting and working to effect positive change, something that they admit, will take time.
Sonic Casuist, a member of Ethioglbt says the gay community in Ethiopia has been living in shadows.
“And now for the first time they are meeting together and making real tangible connections with each other. Our main initiative is to form a real community; we are doing that and rigorously working towards it.”
In a move to cast out homosexuality, in December 2006 clerics of various denominations urged law makers in Ethiopia to ban homosexuality, arguing that it was a foreign practice.
Abune Paolos of Ethopia’s Orthodox Church, the second most influential church in Ethiopia with 40 percent of the population being its devoted followers, had told reporters that homosexuals are “stupid” and should not be tolerated.
“For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behavior, they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be taught a lesson.”
In spite of these oppressive suggestions, the LGBTI community has implemented an initiative that aims to document violations geared towards the LGBTI community in that country.
“I have a group of people with whom I work with in order to advance LGBTI lives here. Right now we are beginning to document any attacks or incidents of abuse against LGBTI people”, Casuist said.
Homosexuality in Ethiopia still remains taboo and considered, by many, to be a punishable sin because of the predominantly religious society.
While homosexuality is illegal under that country’s penal code, punishable by three years imprisonment, the constitution makes no reference to homosexuality.