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LGBTQ+ People Are Facing Increased Persecution, Violence, Ethiopian Activists Say

LGBTQ+ People Are Facing Increased Persecution, Violence, Ethiopian Activists Say

Addis Ababa

Government authorities are raiding venues thought to be LGBTQ-friendly, while social media videos are encouraging violence against queer Ethiopians.

Law enforcement authorities in Ethiopia are targeting venues frequented by LGBTQ+ people in the nation, particularly in the capital city, Addis Ababa, in an effort to root out so-called homosexual activity, while LGBTQ+ Ethiopians are being subjected to violence by private citizens.

“On Friday, August 4, the Addis Ababa Tourism Bureau released a statement on its official Facebook page stating that it is working to bring attention to hotels and restaurants that are allegedly providing services to LGBTQIA+ persons,” says a press release from the House of Guramayle, an LGBTQ+ organization in Ethiopia. “This makes it the first government body to openly acknowledge the ongoing situation. The following day, on August 5, the Addis Ababa Police Commission issued a statement echoing the Tourism Ministry’s message. The Addis Ababa Police Commission has encouraged the public to report business establishments that allow ‘homosexual activities’ — a generalisation that could lead to the incrimination of anyone, regardless of their sexual or gender identity.”

Also, Reuters reports, the Addis Ababa Peace and Security Administration Bureau issued a statement Thursday that it was investigating “institutions where homosexual acts are carried out.” It has raided a guest house and is looking into other venues based on tips from the public.

“If there is any sympathy for those who commit and execute this abominable act that is hated by man and God, [the bureau] will continue to take action,” city officials said in a Facebook post, according to Reuters.

The House of Guramayle adds that its activists have viewed several videos on TikTok that encourage violence against LGBTQ+ Ethiopians both in the country and abroad. There have been numerous physical attacks on LGBTQ+ people in Ethiopia as a result, the organization says.

Sexual acts between people of the same gender are illegal in Ethiopia, but there is no record of anyone being convicted for these acts recently, Reuters reports.

The House of Guramayle is calling on government bodies to protect LGBTQ+ people and for “LGBTQIA+ communities around the world, allies, civil society, and international human rights organizations to stand in solidarity with the Ethiopian LGBTQIA+ community.” It also urges social media platforms such as Meta, YouTube, and TikTok to take down content that encourages violence.

"While similar increases in attacks against LGBTQIA+ communities are being reported by human rights organisations in other parts of the African continent, the escalation in Ethiopia is especially concerning due to the country’s religious history, current worsening socio-political climate, and growing nationalism," its press release says.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest Christian bodies in the world, is deeply opposed to homosexuality. It was once the state church and is still influential, claiming about two-fifths of Ethiopians as adherents. Another one-fifth of Ethiopians belong to other Christian denominations, and the remainder are Muslims or practitioners of traditional African religions.

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