Ethiopia set to strengthen anti-gay laws
THE Ethiopian government is preparing to further strengthen its anti-gay laws this week, with a bill to make homosexual acts a non-pardonable offence.
The country’s Council of Ministers has already endorsed the bill, which would add homosexual acts to a list of non-pardonable offences including corruption, human trafficking, smuggling rape and terrorism. Those convicted of crimes on this list would not be able to have their convictions pardoned by Ethiopia’s president.
Ethiopia’s parliament could vote on the bill as soon as this week. Reportedly, bills endorsed by the Council of Ministers are usually passed.
Anti-gay laws are already in place in Ethiopia, with same-sex acts carrying sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.
It is also illegal in Ethiopia for charities and non-government organisations receiving more than 10 per cent of their funding from abroad to advocate for human rights and equality. This effectively prevents most health services, charities and advocacy groups from openly supporting the country’s LGBTI population.
This new law would see Ethiopia follow Uganda and Nigeria in stepping up persecution of LGBTI people, with some commentators concerned this may be evidence of a “domino effect” on LGBTI rights being rolled back in Africa.
Ethiopia’s Minister for Women, Children and Youth Affairs Zenebu Tadesse made international headlines last month when she apparently took to Twitter publicly criticising Uganda for its recent passage of extreme anti-gay laws.
“There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It’s not Governments’ business to make dress code or anti-gay laws #Uganda,” Tadesse tweeted.
Shortly after the tweet was published, Tadesse’s Twitter account was deleted. She later claimed the tweet was the work of unidentified hackers, and that she does not hold the views it expressed.