ADDIS ABABA — Anti-gay activists in Ethiopia said Thursday they have been forced to abandon plans to demonstrate in the capital after apparently failing to win support from the government and the powerful Orthodox church.
The anti-homosexuality rally had been planned for April 26, and comes amid a trend of increasing stigmatisation of homosexuals across the continent — with Uganda and Nigeria recently adopting tough anti-gay legislation.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Ethiopia, like in most of Africa’s 54 nations, and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The government said there was therefore no need to make legislation any tougher.
“We have no agenda to further it because the law is already there and there is no way that we are going to tamper with it,” Information Minister Redwan Hussein told AFP.
Dereje Negash, the head of Christian association Woyniye Abune Teklehaimanot, said the group would nevertheless fight on in their bid to warn Ethiopians about the “dangers” of homosexuality.
“We want to continue with our plan… want the Ethiopian people to know about this situation and we need to have a lot of rallies to stop these actions,” he said.
“The constitution should be revised because the situation that is going on right now is getting worse,” he added.
Ethiopia is a deeply religious society, with nearly 63 percent of the population practising Orthodox Christianity, according to official figures. However Negash signalled the organisers had also failed to win over the Church.