November 30, 2011

Ethiopians up in arms against gay conference

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:25 am
Tags: , ,

Religious leaders on Tuesday denounced the holding of a gay rights meeting scheduled for Saturday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a day ahead of an international Aids gathering.


The meeting is being organised by the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), an African gay rights lobby group, a day ahead of the 16th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA).

About 10,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the ICASA conference.

But this has enraged Ethiopian religious leaders from Ethiopian Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic and Evangelical groups who expressed their displeasure that Ethiopia will host the meeting.

Ministry of Health officials met with the religious leaders in a closed meeting, moments before they were due to hold a press conference, in attempt to thrash out their dissent.

The press conference has since been postponed.

“Such meetings are against Ethiopia’s culture and values. We do not tolerate such practices in the country,” the religious leaders said.

Religious protests are reported to have begun after word about the meeting spread across the country.

Fundamentalists are said to have spread reports about the convention using text messages and this had led to widespread protests.

“Let us do what we can to stop this gay gathering in our country. It is totally against our culture,” reads one such mobile text message.

But organisers of the meeting are adamant that is should proceed, arguing that it was a human rights issue.

“The aim of this meeting is to increase attention on MSM (male sexual relations), LGBTI and HIV related issues in Africa, to reflect on the state of response in MSM communities on the continent, and to identify ways forward for scaling up MSM and HIV interventions,” the organisers in a statement.

A number of speakers including UNAids Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Eric Goosby and current Chairperson of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV Reine Alapini–Gansou, will be in attendance.

At least 15 African experts on health and human rights issues are set to present at the conference.

AMSHeR is the brainchild of several HIV and human rights advocates following the ICASA conference in Abuja Nigeria, in 2005.

Ethiopia is a highly conservative country and religious country, where topics such as homosexuality are regarded as taboo. The country’s laws forbid same sex relations.


1 Comment »

  1. More specifically, the title should read homophobic bigots in Ethiopia up in arms against conference for Equal Rights for homosexuals. That’s all there is.

    Truth be told, this is total hypocrisy, because, a lot of these religious followers and leaders (Orthodox church for example) are the worst drinkers, fornicators, and liers, but they always look for an issue to band together and attack others, such as religious differences, and sexual orientations.

    Comment by Zeru — January 11, 2012 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

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