Ethiopian government officials, religious leaders and civil representatives have declared their opposition to LGBT rights and condemned homosexuality as a western epidemic during an anti-gay conference. A national conference entitled ‘Homosexuality and its associated social disastrous consequences’ on Saturday 9 June 2012 was held in the newly built African Union headquarters, in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The conference was organised by Dr Seyoum Antonius, president of United for Life, a non-governmental organization which describes itself as Christian, pro-life and backing the sanctity of marriage.
Over 2,000 participants attended the conference, including the main religious leaders of Ethiopia, government officials, members of the Ethiopian Parliament, leaders of political parties, youth organizations and representatives from other civil societies.
During the conference an Ethiopian government spokesman stated: ‘Recently, the US President Barak Obama, British Prime Minster David Cameron and other western leaders are trying to establish ties between aid and the rights of homosexuals, but this will never happen in Ethiopia. ‘We don’t want their aid as long as it is related to homosexuality, I assure you that Ethiopia has no room for homosexuality and our country will be the graveyard of homosexuality.’
Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church said: ‘Ethiopians do not need their identity to be dictated for them from outside no matter how wealthy or powerful the forces applying the pressure were.’
He also read a statement of an interfaith grouping of Ethiopia’s religious leaders condemning homosexuality as an unnatural and calling on international bodies to stop attempting to ‘subvert’ Ethiopian traditions. The statement called upon the Ethiopian government to punish ‘those who are found infested with sodomite activities’ and called for raising awareness how to protect society from this ‘infestation’.
Dr Seyoum Antonius presented findings of his ‘study’ that ‘proved’ that homosexuality is a result of inappropriate upbringing and leads to STDs, HIV and ‘severe psychological disorders’. This directly contradicts the view of professional medical and psychological bodies around the world, including the World Health Organization.
The conference also heard a ‘witness’ account of a young Ethiopian man who was forcefully raped at the age of six and consequently ‘infected with the homosexual disease for 20 years’ and is also living with AIDS. The man claimed that he has been ‘cured from homosexuality’ and is now a ‘changed man’.
Activist ‘Selam’ from EthioLGBT.com, a support site for LGBT Ethiopians stated: ‘Tollowing this conference, the atmosphere is becoming more hostile and tough to the LGBT community in Ethiopia.’
Under Ethiopian law, homosexual activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.