LGBT rights in Ethiopia
|LGBT rights in Ethiopia|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Illegal|
|Up to 15 years in prison.|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Ethiopia face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country. According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 97 percent of Ethiopia residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the second-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Under Article 629 of the Criminal Code, both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Ethiopia. "Whoever performs with another person of the same sex a homosexual act, or any other indecent act, is punishable...." According to Article 630, the punishment is simple imprisonment for not less than one year, or, in certain grave or other cases, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years. A homosexual act is never considered a victimless crime in Ethiopian law; rather, the wording of the penal code recognizes that it is an act of an aggressor against a victim. Consequently, the offense of the aggressor is considered aggravated, when it results in the suicide of the victim.
Conservative attitudes around sex and sexuality remain prevalent in Ethiopia, with many Ethiopians believing that homosexuality is simply a choice and not innate. Arguments are made of it being an import from the West and that Ethiopian society should not accept it as a legitimate orientation. A 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project found 97% of Ethiopian residents said that homosexuality should be rejected by society. This was the second-highest percentage among the countries surveyed, exceeded only by Mali.
Dr Seyoum Antoniyos, President of United for Life and influential activist oganised a national conference in 2013 attended by politicians ad religious leaders. He promotes the opinion that homosexuality is not a human rights issue but rather the result of a “deep psychological problem”, often caused by abuse or some form of "social crisis”.
In December 2008, nearly a dozen Ethiopian religious figures (including the leader of Ethiopian Muslims and the heads of the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic churches) adopted a resolution against homosexuality, urging Ethiopian lawmakers to endorse a ban on homosexual activity in the constitution. This included Ethiopian Catholic Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, and the Anglican Bishop, Andrew Proud.
They also blamed homosexuality for the rise in sexual attacks on children and young men. Abune Paulos, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, said, "This is something very strange in Ethiopia, the land of the Bible that condemns this very strongly. For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behaviour. They (homosexuals) have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be given a lesson."
The U.S. Department of State's 2011 Human Rights Report found that,
There were some reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals; however, reporting was limited due to fears of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatization. Persons did not identify themselves as LGBT persons due to severe societal stigma and the illegality of consensual same-sex sexual activity. In early December[,] Christian and Muslim religious leaders attempted to derail a seminar on sexual health that was targeted at men who have sex with men. The government intervened, and the seminar went ahead, although at a different location. The AIDS Resource Center in Addis Ababa reported that the majority of self-identified gay and lesbian callers, the majority of whom were male, requested assistance in changing their behavior to avoid discrimination. Many gay men reported anxiety, confusion, identity crises, depression, self-ostracism, religious conflict, and suicide attempts.
- State Sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws criminalising same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, edited by Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, May 2012, page 28
- The number of adults (all were 18 to 64 years of age) surveyed in Ethiopia was 710, yielding a margin of error of 4 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.
- "Pew Global Attitudes Project", (pages 35, 81, and 117)
- Criminal Code of Ethiopia (2005) § 630.2.c.
- 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia, Section 5, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State
- "Ethiopian clerics seek constitutional ban on homosexuality", AFP, 22 December 2008
- 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, pages 33-34