Useful websites for LGBT Africa: http://www.mask.org.za/index2.html
May 27, 2003 – From Behind the Mask
Beware the gays
Sources in Addis Ababa report that local government officials recently called meetings in the various suburbs and villages of Addis Ababa to warn parents about the hazards of homosexuality. Concerned that homosexuality is becoming more visible in the city local authorities are reacting to a recent spate of people coming out as gay or lesbian in the city. In some areas of the city, such as at Bole International Airport and at various cinemas and theatres in the city, gays have begun to gather in the evenings to socialise. One young person reported that after the meeting his parents accused him of being gay because of his "different" appearance and behaviour.
Officials at the meetings warned that from time to time there is an increase in the occurrence of homosexuality and that parents should watch out for warning signs. They also warned that the recent rise in homosexuality is due to parents not looking after their children properly. The meetings have sparked debate among parents and other residents in Addis Ababa leading to an atmosphere of fear and apprehension among the city’s gay population. The current debate is drawing more interest than ever before to the subject of homosexuality and people’s behaviour, adding to the feeling of apprehension among the gay community.
January 7, 2005 – Behind the Mask
We are gay and Ethiopian
Discussions among Ethiopians in an online group have recently centred on whether or not being gay is Ethiopian.
Melakam Yegena Bale argues that one can be both and that civil rights for gays could benefit straights too. In the struggle for gay equality, it’s important to at least get others to listen to what we have to say. Not because we have to get a majority of people on our side: civil rights does not (or more accurately, isn’t supposed to) depend on majority approval. We need people to listen to us so that we can explain to them why allowing the government to limit the civil rights of gays is dangerous to the civil rights of straights as well.
Abandoning our history and heritage and telling others "We’re Gays! We’re not Ethiopians!" is not conducive to get the other side to listen. Demanding equality and later abandoning the struggle whenever we are challenged by the oppressor is not only pointless, it’s downright dangerous. People don’t need much of a reason to continue to discriminate, and being disrespectful to our heritage and background is giving them that ammunition.
Identifying ourselves merely based on our sexual orientation makes homophobia easy. If we just focus on our sexuality and ignore our other identities, what kind of message are we sending? Who can blame straight people for thinking gay men are nothing more than sex-crazed perverts? Why are we blaming guys for telling us being gay is not Ethiopian if we abandon our heritage upon learning our attraction for the same gender? Are we not fulfilling prejudicial stereotypical assumptions? Is this not self- defeating?
Self-defeating behaviour and actions can only be stopped by the one who is performing them. Straights can’t stop gay Ethiopians from behaving in ways that put people on the defensive and therefore less inclined to listen to what their advocates are saying. We must stop those behaviours ourselves. We must take back control of our lives. We must help ourselves. Until we learn how to fight oppression systematically, all we can really do is to both sit idly by and say Hey!
Wake up! Look at what you’re doing to yourself!
University of Washington
Being Young, Ethiopian-American and Homeless (story followed by many hostile and supportive replies from readers)
Trevor Klein / The Daily
Senior Leoule Goshu has overcome many obstacles in life. Having left his abusive parents for a life on the streets, he is now a full-time student at the UW and was director of the GBLTC. Leoule Goshu endured depression, domestic violence and homelessness – all before he turned 22
by Blythe Lawrence
The invitation said 9:37 p.m., but at 10 the spacious apartment was still almost empty. " I hate gay people," Leoule Goshu said dramatically, rolling his big brown eyes. But he can’t help but smile, his despairing tone quickly melting into a high-pitched giggle. " I just want it to be quiet and not too obnoxious," he said of the impending birthday party. Alcohol is not allowed in the building where Leoule lives, so guests have been warned not to bring anything tucked into a brown paper bag.
In the living room, a handful of guests are seated on cushions and couches around a small coffee table laden with lemon cakes and potato chips, breaking the ice by sharing stories of their strangest dreams and answering "would you rather" questions read off a deck of cards. " Would you rather your mother was a well-known prostitute or a murderess and only you knew about it?" a girl asked. Leoule blanches, even though the question is not addressed to him. He’s played "would you rather" on his birthday before — specifically, one night two years ago when he decided he’d rather live on the streets than face his abusive parents again.
Domestic violence: A family affair
Originally from Austin, TX, the former UW Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgender Commission (GBLTC) director grew up in a household where domestic violence was a family affair. His parents were from Ethiopia, where Leoule’s grandfather was a government official. His parents moved to Austin before he was born, and his father attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a PhD in psychology. Although it is not uncommon for Ethiopian men to hit their wives, Leoule said his father decided to give up the practice after studying the effects of spousal abuse. But the damage had already been done. Instead of growing up in a household where the father was the dominant abusive figure, by the time the family had moved from Austin to Tacoma, his mother had taken to hitting his father. Violence was "all around," he said. As a child, he thought kids in every household were treated that way. " I was a bully in preschool," he said, laughing. "My parents used to pinch me, so I pinched other kids. I thought it was the norm."
An excuse for anger
His parents noticed his high voice when he was young and knew he was "different." " Apparently they knew I was gay before I did," Leoule said, but doesn’t show the smile that so frequently appears when he interacts with others. He doesn’t think his sexuality altered his childhood, or that his parents picked on him because he was gay. Rather, his sexuality became an excuse for their anger. "[There would have been] domestic violence whether I was gay or straight," he said. As he grew older, the attacks got progressively worse. " My father threatened to take my life," Leoule said emotionlessally, staring far away into the darkness of the night. "My mother threatened to kill me with an ax." It’s a story he’s told many times before.
The young and the homeless
When Leoule was 18, he enrolled at the UW, commuting from home for two years. His parents wouldn’t apply for financial aid, even though Leoule says his family would have qualified. "For them, it was a matter of control." One night, Leoule’s mother hit his sister in the face with a wine glass. The injury landed her in the emergency room. For Leoule, it was a wake-up call: his mother was capable of carrying out her threats. He realized he might be next. So like many children who come from homes of domestic violence, Leoule decided he was safer on the streets. He split the night he turned 20. " There’s a rule among street kids that if you don’t have interaction with a social worker during your first 90 days of being homeless, it’s hard to get help and get off the streets," Leoule said. He was lucky — after making contact with a social worker, he was placed in one of Seattle’s transitional housing facilities
Because he was black, gay and homeless, the odds were against him. According to a report by the Seattle Commission on Children and Youth, approximately 40 percent of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Half say their parents reject them because of their sexual orientation, and 25 percent are forced to leave home because of it. When Leoule began seeking out ways to get back in school, he discovered he was still technically enrolled at the UW. "It was one of the greatest days of my life," he said.
But there was still depression to overcome. At the transitional home, youths move out when they feel they have gotten a handle on their lives. The continuous exodus and influx of new people at the shelter was too much for Leoule to deal with. Depression and suicide are common issues, he said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youth. " Here in the U-District, people have the privilege of staying in shelters," Leoule said. "There was no stability in my life. People would enter and leave every three months."
A fetish for being included
The men in the room fit no stereotype and belong to several ethnic groups. Party guests have moved on from playing "would you rather" to describing their fetishes.
" Soccer men."
" Swimmer boys."
" Being tied up with the entire U.S. men’s gymnastics team."
For Leoule, it’s a welcome change. Even among gay youth, Leoule said he often felt excluded because of his skin color. "White gay males, their circles are very white," he said. His awareness that his skin color made him different from other gay men made him painfully shy. "I would meet guys on the internet for sex," he said. "But I could never interact with them in person."
Fighting for his rights
Leoule still battles post-traumatic stress. But he’s also moved on. As director of the UW GBLTC, he was responsible for generating a storm of publicity about gay rights on campus. He lobbied for gay marriage and helped organize a drag talent competition in the HUB that was so popular it filled the auditorium to capacity and students were turned away. His job has become so popular that although Leoule applied for the position next year, he was not chosen for it. "It was weird, moving from a place where I had no power, to a really powerful position," he said. "People love me or they hate me. Nobody wanted the job last year, and now so many people want [it], I’ve done my job."
Leoule’s apartment, the biggest in his building, is spotless. The room is lit only by one lamp, with bulbs sprouting in every direction, making it look like an exotic tree. Alongside movie posters, pages featuring GBLTC events from The Daily are tacked to the wall. Music pulsates from someone’s laptop, a grounding, driving beat. The guests are eating, drinking, engaged in animated conversations. Every now and then the door opens and someone new walks in to shouted greetings and hugs. Leoule stands at the center of the room, reveling in it all. Later, when everyone who wants to be is good and buzzed, there will be dancing at Neighbors, a popular gay club on Capitol Hill. Finals, the past and the future can wait — right now, Leoule Goshu is just another college senior enjoying his 22nd birthday party.
Comments from Readers:
= Comment from: Rift valley [Visitor]
Leoule shame on yourself.
The bible said homos will not enter the kingdom of heaven.change your way! Or you will burn in HELL.
p.s. Leoule, nobody had perfect childhood
= Comment from: Ethiolove [Visitor]
What a sad story in every direction!
6/22/05 @ 10:28
= Comment from: cool Dude [Visitor]
Leoule you are a brother. but not Realy!
06/22/05 @ 11:05
= Comment from: queenofsheba [Visitor]
I think that it is very brave of you to come out. This ignorant habash society we have is what is keeping us apart from being a more civil society. I have many gay friends even though i have not met Ethiopians that are gay, i feel we all need to love people not because of their sexuality but because of their heart. Don’t listen to this people that are telling you that you are going to burn in hell because they are certinaly not without sin. And as far as domestic violence i know that it happens in our households because it happened in mine. I hope that all is well with you and keep on working hard, If you care to e-mail me some time please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org and perhaps we can chat. P.S i live in toronto canada.
your sister in love.
06/22/05 @ 11:25
= Comment from: Berehe [Visitor]
Shame on you Leoule.Bisbis bushtie.
06/22/05 @ 12:17
= Comment from: Abraham [Member]
Keep the hope alive and forget the past, big up your journey to the future, do not forget who you are, your roots is the foundation of forgiveness.
06/22/05 @ 12:20
= Comment from: Saddened [Visitor]
I send my condolences to the Goshu family. And I say ditto to Berehe.
06/22/05 @ 12:57
= Comment from: Ezana [Visitor]
I must say you are one brave brother. Coming out of our community, which is very traditional and culturally sensitive, it isn’t easy to be you. Even the so called educated and liberal in our community wouldn’t tolerate your orientation. In our community we talk about Democracy, human right all that bull. But when it comes to the reality we fail to live up to the very principle we claim to fight and die for: INDIVIDUAL RIGHT. I think it takes sometime before we come to respect your individual right. I must say as open as I am trying to be, I am still a little bit homophobic. I am sure you would understand why. Move on brother!!06/22/05 @ 13:12
= Comment from: kormaa finfinee [Visitor]
leoule. Do not take on your parents. for that of your own desire. you did called your parents abusives. but they
did lived together for long until you faget ass moved out.and they are still together.too much of afreedom and culturelessness will lead you to distruction of life style .if you dont fully understand what freedom stands for. i donot care what you do for your group of devils.you are still ignored,
isolated black gay. please hide your pic becouse we dont need another sick Ethiopian any more.
and it seems to me ,that you are that school just to explore your sexuality not for any thing else.
All your roads to the hell faget.
06/22/05 @ 13:13
= Comment from: Adey [Visitor]
In the end, all that matters is your relationship with God. Unlike people who judge you at face value, God knows everything about you and loves you unconditionally. Do not worry about what people say or think because it doesn’t matter! I’m sorry about your abusive past but I’m proud that you took action to do what’s right for yourself. May God continue to be with you and best wishes in everything you do! It takes courage to be open and honest like you have been and although it exposes you to stupid comments from people like the ones above, I hope it will also be a healing process for you.
06/22/05 @ 13:14
=Comment from: Medhanit [Visitor]
I recommend 7 days at Shenkora tsebel. The devil that possessed you and is making you have unnatural desires will go off you like a smoke. (sigh) Just a suggestion.
06/22/05 @ 13:36
= Comment from: Demeke [Visitor]
Leoul, don’t think that you are the only one facing problems in this world. It is the world of problems. Look Africa the land of all misery, the Palestine the land of hatred and war, Europe the land of discrimination and others. So when you are living here don’t expect to live in a absolute perfection. The objective of it is to straggle and win. . This is the spice of life. That is how you taste it. But what ever you do you can’t win by your self. You have to get help. Help from your family, neighbors, teachers, friends, colleagues, wife, etc. These all helps are not perfect. They all depend on their interest. If they don’t get what they expect from you, they will turn off their relationship and help. That is why you face the problems you mention. The perfect help is always from almighty GOD. So to get help and succeed in your life, believe in GOD. Believing in GOD is doing what he ordered us to do or living in him. I think you know how HE destroys the two cities in the Bible. Think how this world is going on. It is not by doing what we all feel inside. Sometimes we refrain from our feeling to be in line with the norm of the society. If otherwise, the world will destroy it self. Stop and think twice. Don’t simply follow your feeling sometimes refer it to the norm so as to keep yourself with your neighbor. If you ignore the neighbors the neighbors will do the some. If you respect their feeling they will do the some. Don’t exaggerate your problem. Think of the others who live in war, drought, disaster, ignorance, darkness and so on. You really don’t know what life is elsewhere. That is why you are thinking this. Before time goes off, think twice.06/22/05 @ 13:54
= Comment from: Bizu [Visitor]
You still have hope with God. Repent and return from your evil ways. the devil is deciving you, he is taking your life to the hell, so please seek the face of Jesus, he will heal you completly. he will give you Eternal life
06/22/05 @ 14:01
= Comment from: waqjirra [Visitor]
i am sad with your past story.
but if you want to continue as a gay man that is your business.That is your choice. i admire you are smart guy. i know it is not accepteble in our country Ethiopia in public but we how many gay and lesbian specially in Addis. Because that is the way we live cheating,hiding….
Have a good one Leoule
06/22/05 @ 14:13
= Comment from: Meron [Visitor]
I feel sorry for what happen to. I blame your parents for not giving you guidance to life. No matter we’re poor, rich, abused and all that, one thing we Ethiopians have is moral. Where is your Moral. you still have a chance to change your life. Is there Ethiopian a church around your area? please go and talk to somebody. You’re life style is not acceptable to anyone. Grow up, LIBE GIZA. I recommend 7 day Tsbel too.
06/22/05 @ 14:38
= Comment from: Sara [Visitor]
Disgusting Story. I feel so Disgusted reading it. I never seen gay Habesha.
06/22/05 @ 14:42
= Comment from: Arat kilo [Visitor]
I went through your story. Here in Addis, there are people with that orientation of yours. However, Leul, being a gay, is a blind alley. You will never get the love and satisfaction you aspire in this life. Besides, you will not be getting approval from your heavenly father. You are young, strong and have ample time to come back , respect your Ethiopian values and strike the "straight" sexuality deal.
06/22/05 @ 15:02
= Comment from: bOLE [Visitor]
It is a very sad story. I know people who goes to your school(UW); non of them mention about you, I don’t think you consider yourself Ethiopian. Devil has power but much less than God’s will. It is not too late. I think you are possessed by davil and your parents noticed that but faild. I have seen Tsebel (Holy water) cure all this devels work in Ethiopia. Again it is not too late. you get your happines. I pray for you and your family.
06/22/05 @ 15:11
= Comment from: Ezana [Visitor]
Here we Go Again!!
I must say this forum is a micro sample of the hatred in our communities, be it Ethiopian, Eritrean or any society on this earth. Instead of rationalize our problems; we jump to the word of violence. This, in fact is nothing new, especially coming from Habesha communities. Our life, since our time in the cradles, starts with violence, we grow in violence, we die in violence. At home, one is being pinched, suffocated with paper smoke, face a string made out of a bull’s dick. All this is in the name of discipline. You go to school, every class has such strings or similar or sometimes a belt. All this is again in the name of discipline. That of course doesn’t stop at the child. A father can do the same to a mother. Or a father and a mother can come together and jump their own children, talk about lynching!! This is a type of society we came out. No wonder we believe violence is the only solution for our problem. Look at how our politicians solve their problems. The recent killing of our student is nothing new. It is that violence that grew to this level. That little naughty boy grew to be a university student; and the father who used to use a belt too grows to use gun. We are full of violence. We have so many problems in our community to talk. Leaoul is not our problem. We are his problems. Leave the poor man alone!!
06/22/05 @ 15:18
= Comment from: Nas_2 [Visitor]
LEOULE, UR STORY SHOWS HOW GREAT YOU ARE. DON’T EVER GIVE UP TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOAL.
AND ALSO U DON’T HAVE TO ASHAMED FOR BEING GAY, I AM ETHIOPIAN GAY. I START PRACTICING IT SINCE I WAS 10 IN BACK HOME. NOW I DON’T ASHAMED OF BEING GAY. I AM PROUD OF WHAT I AM. I have many gay friends. you can join us if you want. here is my e-mail address : email@example.com.
Hope see you.
06/22/05 @ 15:25
= Comment from: mesi [Visitor]
You are one damn Knucklehead! Go NATURAL boy!! What is the matter with you? Seek help!! Your ass is meant for elimination!!!
06/22/05 @ 15:32
= Comment from: jalo kejela [Visitor]
It is hard thing to swallo. I advis you to look back and open your hart to god,that will clenth your heart and forgive your sin,that only one way no ather way around god belles you.
06/22/05 @ 16:11
= Comment from: bOLE [Visitor]
queenofsheba and others, please help this gay guy. Find him a Tsebbel (holy water),in the mean time, and send it to him; if you really care about him. In the long run we can facilitate to send him for a month back to Ethiopia. He is posesed by devil. Pray and I hope God will lead you the way.
06/22/05 @ 16:17
= Comment from: ermias [Visitor]
What a sick story .we Ethiopians are not godless people. we are either christians or muslims .we all respect the will of god particularly in this regard.We have respect for our culture.So we do not want hear your ….We all have problems while growing up. That has nothing to do with your sexuality.
So if you are willing to come back and be normal ,the almighty God we forgive you. Otherwise get your gay ass out of our site .we have a lot of problems to talk about not your trashy act.06/22/05 @ 16:18
= Comment from: sellout [Visitor]
sorry to hear this. Another sad Ethiopian story. When will we really stretch our hand to god and he will really respond????????
06/22/05 @ 16:19
= Comment from: lili [Visitor]
Leoule: You are not smart you just want to be the first Ethiopian gay you just want noticed. go to hill.
06/22/05 @ 16:19
= Comment from: Muhammed [Visitor]
I am sadden and ashamed by your sad story. I know for sure God loves you. I am certain that if you pray and give your life to God, you will overcome these problems. You are the victim of society in crisis. Please forgive to your parents and forget the past, so that you may have peace in your heart.
In the past being a lesbian was unheard of and being a gay, a homosexual, BUSHTI or a FNAFIENT was unacceptable. And those who came out of the callosities were condemned by their parents and stoned to death by the public. However, since Melese and the Woyanes took power by force, being Homosexual is acceptable
by the government.The government, not only encouraged society to accept them, but also allowed them to have high ranking government positions in Ethiopia and overseas as Diplomats. It is believed most Woyane officials including Prime Minister Melese have a double life.
A case in point, Allula Hidarru, Alem Habtu, Abdul Muhammed, Abdul Abaa Borra, Abbdul Mejide, Endrias Eshate, and Mulu Kestela are some of the high ranking gay officials in the current government. These guys are closely associated with the CIA and were in involved in the Constitution draft ting. They all like to hang out with Jewish Gays and Lesbians. These guys have no national pride and they are lost and confused. For example, Endrias Eshate is the president of Addis Ababa University and he was responsible for the death of 40 innocent students and hundreds wounded and thousands of imprisoned citizens. Endrias have no child by birth. Perhaps that was the reason why he was not sympathetic to those innocent students and their parents.
Since the Woyane took power the HIV/AIDS case has increased tremendously. Thousands and Millions of Ethiopians are being infected every day and over 10 million Ethiopians have died. Why increase in HIV/AIDS case ? I would like to leave this question to Medical Researchers and Policy Makers.
May God Save Ethiopia and It’s Children.
06/22/05 @ 16:22
= Comment from: senait [Visitor]
Unlike my frends here I would stay neutral on this matter. I would rather talk about real Ethiopian issues!!!!!!!!!
06/22/05 @ 16:40
= Comment from: fekade [Visitor]
shame on you.we Ethiopians and the whole human race ashemed of you.you are humulatied us.don’t call your self I am Ethiopian.your place is hell.it is not too late .you still have time to be a human being.
06/22/05 @ 16:41
= Comment from: Ke Hagere Menilike Ze Shoa [Visitor]
It is great to see real Ethiopian Like You, Leoule .Please leave these fanatic and guregna habeshas. May I tell you something Ethiopia is full of under cover gays. I know there are many gay Government officials, Scholars ,Artists ,Business men, students and to your surprise I know many Orthodox church priests/Monks/ and Pentecostal church Pastors and singers.
Specially in Monasteries there are many gays but we don’t want accept it. Leoule God is not like Human being He Loves you! and care about you!
To your information there are many married men/bisexual/ who are having sex with men here in Addis. If you come in Addis I will show you.
Due to the cultural influence many gay people are forced to marry here but they are having an affairs still. To be gay is not western culture it is how we created. When I had a this feeling I tried so many things to get healing. I was baptized many times, I was fasting almost all our orthodox fasting, I tried everything as I could to do. I suffered a lot until recently I had no partner. I was raped by My dad and mom/nebis abate/.
When I was 15 yrs old my mom and dad were in USA to visit my sister. He was the one who come home and slept at night. He is now Abune/pope/ in Addis. My parents don’t know about it, I wish I can kill this priest .It is my painful secret. Tears are dropping from my eyes when I write this…..
Thanks God no one can identify me as gay here in Addis b/c I’m very masculine and having athletic body. To your information I’m 23 and now working and studding my master’s degree in AAU.
Anybody who reads this comment just thinks about your dad, brother, uncle, friend and Church minister/Sheiks in Mosque/ do you know they can be gay in closet?
06/22/05 @ 17:10
= Comment from: mt [Visitor]
He aint using your uss…live him alone…
06/22/05 @ 17:36
= Comment from: Muesik [Visitor]
We are proud on you… You are one living example where the abused and the discriminated say enough is enough. There are many gay Ethiopians who would love to come out and free themselves. But they still live in hiding fearing rejections from family and loved ones. I am gay Ethiopian and I know many gay Ethiopians who are out, in most cases they have a good relationship with their families. The one thing what people who posted hateful messages here don’t realize is that, they have family members,cousins or best friends who are gay.
So, Leoule, keep up the good work, remember there are good and gay friendly Ethiopians around you.
06/22/05 @ 17:44
= Comment from: Yohannes [Visitor]
Its really hard to think about, Gay or whatever kind of Ethiopian, This is one of a disappointing story told by this bullshiter.
First of all Loul this is a sign of sickness about you. If you are a real man and strong you wouldn’t be on the street, But you are bullshite and you think that way, I am not suprise that you paretnt kick you out your bat, becacuse you was action like bat bull.
Look, Miss, what is my advice for you is, this Right now if you can get up your bat and enroll in U.S Army, and they will teach your bat how to be a man. And you will feel about being man. Otherwise no matter what you did, you are a busted man.
Bullshite, Dont mention even if you are Ethiopian.
Cool!! alright cool.
06/22/05 @ 18:11
= Comment from: Lealem [Visitor]
Leoule, there is what we call Society’s Norm And Value in the world we’re living in to which we all abide to. If I want to run around naked on the street, so long as it is with in the society’s norm and value, it won’t offend anybody and I can do that. But I know it is out of the norm and value society has built for ages, so I respectfully avoid such negative actions that embarrass the society I’m living in.
Why do you think thieves are chased and imprisoned, it’s just because they have defaulted or performed an action out of the society’s norm. The Gypsy society has accepted stilling as part of the society’s norm and for that particular society it is an accepted action, but a Gypsy thief will be arrested if he or she stills in our normal society.
Some individuals like you, Leoule, do go-out wild like cancer cells, and try to live outside of the society’s norm, giving all sorts of excuses to achieve their goal. In Ethiopia, being a gay is out of the society’s norm and value. So if you have understood my meaning, let’s leave it at that.06/22/05 @ 18:32
= Comment from: Queer_Abesha [Visitor]
I COMMEND YOU FOR BEING WHO YOU ARE AND STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF. YOU MAY NOT UNDERSTAND HOW HOMOPHOBIC MOST ETHIOPIANS ARE BECAUSE YOU ARE BORN IN THE STATES BUT AS A GAY ETHIOPIAN, YOU MAKE ME PROUD. FUCK THE CRAZY NUTTY FREAKS WHO THINK THEY HAVE A GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO TELL EVERYONE HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES! THEY ARE ALL ASS BACKWARDS! THIS IS ABOUT BEING TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE AND LIVING YOUR LIFE AS YOU FIT!
06/22/05 @ 19:18
= Comment from: Daniel [Visitor]
Leuol-you are just one brave and courageous man! Keep up the sprit, be yourself, and proud!!
I am proud of you and your story realy inspired me. You are not alone on this.
06/22/05 @ 19:52
= Comment from: Alem [Visitor]
Stop giving excuses and go to church,pray talk to professional,get help believe in God God bless,
06/22/05 @ 19:53
= Comment from: Daniel Meta ! [Visitor]
Someone once said, Ignorance is the greatest evil on earth.
And judging from the absolutely and insanely ridiculous responses the article on Leoule has garnered, I now know for certain, that Ignorance
indeed is the greatest evil. If those people who posted those insidious and outrages messages were not ignorant, they would know that, there
are GAY ETHIOPIANS ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!! I am one of them! And there is nothing wrong with us, we are just like everyone else, and you know what, we are damn proud to be Ethiopians and Gay! No amount of "tsebel" or "praying" is going to change that, stop preaching your hate!!!
So, get over it! Leave Leoule alone! He is a courages young man who has gone through a lot, and deserves every encouragement he gets. I can also tell that he is a man who is strong enough to not let these crazy homophobic and judgmental Ethiopians get to him! I say Bravo to you my friend, you stood up for who you are, and there is nothing more in life that’s important than that!
Thank you for being an inspiration to many of us, keep up the good work.
06/22/05 @ 20:00
= Comment from: Rahel [Visitor]
Leoule you are truly an inspiration to so many different communities, including our own: habesha, American, poc, gay habesha (yes there IS a strong and active community of gay habeshas who are doctors and lawyers and artists and students and everything else). Your strength and courage to leave an abusive situation and continue to be successful and positive, and to help others is truly amazing. Although a few ignorant, negative and clearly unhappy individuals have chosen to post trashy, hateful comments, know that there are many many others gay (habesha and not) and straight (habesha and not)who are truly proud and inspired by you. Thank you for sharing your story. -Rahel
06/22/05 @ 20:16
= Comment from: Deb [Visitor]
Leoule, I will tell you the same thing I told my son when he came in tears at 22 to tell me he was gay. God loves you where you are. It is your responsiblity to be moral. That means you do not sleep around, just as I say hetrosexual sleeping around is wrong. Respect yourself and I pray you find the special someone as my son has who truely loves and respects him. Life is hard enough without the problems that gay life brings. I can not imagine anyone choosing this. You were born feeling these feelings. Pax (Peace)
06/22/05 @ 20:52
= Comment from: Zulu [Visitor]
I did not know a lot of gay Ethiopians are out there. How come you give support for such a crazy person who is going public with the most disgusting stories ever told in our community. By the way, opposing gays is not a sign of uncivilization as some of you trying to tell us. I am praying to God not to bring face to face with this man, on the street of Washington, dressing like a woman with a big breast on his chest. Every year people like him parade on Washington street acting like fools. A man kissing another mans lips. Forgive me folks I can’t stand this. This story reminded me another story I heard recently. An Ethiopian man approches two girls on the street of Washington. He kind of liked one of them. No sooner than he started talking to them one of them said to the man:"we are lesbiains we do not date". He should have kept this storty between him and his boy friends.
06/22/05 @ 20:55
= Comment from: ffx24 [Visitor]
Leoule, I am most proud by the way you handled your life as a kid. Most of all Congratulations for staying in school despite luck of support system from home. Please ignore those who are telling you to fit in their narrow thinking. Some are diagnosing you, others are condemn you, all in the name of religion and culture. What people forget is that they are jugging you, which is a sin on its own. What people need to understand is that sexuality is not chosen. IT is a natural occurrence; as long as people believe in God, remember that God created all of us; and as a religious person one should never judge others … only God can do that. Stop cheating on your wifes and husbands, stop lying, stop taking bribe, stop cheating, stop flirting, stop having sex before marriage, stop desiring someone else, etc etc… sounds familier ? all in the bible. We are all sinners…..But unlike all of the things I mentioned above, being gay, is a natural occurrence, and to try to stop it will be to work against Gods will. God bless all and stop hating…
06/22/05 @ 21:10
= Comment from: ggkd [Visitor]
I am surprised to see such discussions in an Ethiopian websites. Shame on you nazret.com people for letting this happen. Do you want a demonic western influence affect our way of life.
What a shame !!!
06/22/05 @ 21:32
= Comment from: To Zulu ! [Visitor]
To Zulu, what you posted was simply ignorant and abhorrent. First of all, yes, there are this many GAY ETHIOPIANS out there, in fact, all over the world we have support groups, meetings, and parties! SO, get over it. Second, you said something about walking on the streets of Washington and seeing Ethiopians "dressed like a woman with breast on" that right there shows how uneducated you are, not all gay people do that… and if they did, that would be their right, if you don’t like to see them kissing, then turn around and look elsewhere, how dare you impose your backward way of thinking on others? how very pretentious?
Once again, people have the right to be who they are, and there is absolutely nothing you or every other homophobic Ethiopian out there can do about it. Did you say "The Most disgusting story ever told??" I’ll tell you what the most disgusting ever told is, the fact that 14.5 Million Ethiopians who are starving to death as I write this, or perhaps the over 2 million children living with HIV, not to mention twice as many HIV positiv Adults, or maybe the fact that the Ethiopian government puts a bullet in the heads of people who dare stand up to its corruption??? Now that’s something you should be disgusted about, and not someone else’s sexuality. Gay and Ethiopian,
06/22/05 @ 21:38
=Comment from: Lealem [Visitor]
Kan any normal person imagine a man fucking another man, oh disgusting! just to think and talk about it.
Even animals, be it wild or tame, do not show such abnormal relationship. So how on earth do you people live a life down lower than the animals world. Animals at least can not think, and yet proved to have a better and normal life than these fools who at least have the ability to think and follow logic.
06/22/05 @ 22:44
= Comment from: teddy [Visitor]
hi my bro well done, you are the son fo true. ignorance Ethiopian hope your time is up go to hell with your 7th century mind. now is 21st century a time of civilization, dignity and individual human right. even if our mother Ethiopia never provide us this freedom still we are free with our Socond citizenship. hope next is my tern……hihihihi….
06/22/05 @ 22:48
=Comment from: To Lealem [Visitor]
Actually, there have been many studied cases of homosexuality within the animal kingdom. If you were somewhat well-read and educated you would have known that. But instead you choose to show your ignorance by making stupid comments like that! Obviously you have some serious issues with your own sexuality, because if you were comfortable with who you are, you wouldn’t be so offended by those who are different than you.
Love your neighbour, don’t judge.
06/22/05 @ 22:49
= Comment from: Madebo [Visitor]
Mr Fikru, first of all, do not question my education. I think you are the boy friend. I am sorry if I offended you. But that was my comment and, I will stand by it. I advice you to stop recruiting more Ethiopians for your party. You can be what ever you want. Do not you know that you are solely responsible for half of the HIV cases in the world?
06/22/05 @ 22:57
= Comment from: essa-2 [Visitor]
Damn, did I just read that? well I did and read everyone else’s comment. God save us all from all this wicked things going around us God bless you brother and I hope that you will see the light. P.S, Habesha females fine and they taste better than any wine, so why thake that route, our women are too good so why be gay, try some and then tell that you are gay. Peace out and we still love you brother.
06/22/05 @ 22:58
= Comment from: andi [Visitor]
Well boys, I think Woyane laughing to death at this time to see Ethiopians arguing about sombody’s ass.They were not comfortable when the good and strong Ethiopian boys talk poletics. Please get another topic and argue. The ass belongs to him only and you all are trying to be Oprah/Dr Phil.06/22/05 @ 23:13
= Comment from: To ALL [Visitor]
check this out… http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gayEthiopians/ There are more than what you think. just find out this thru my gay brother.
06/22/05 @ 23:27
= Comment from: Endeber [Visitor]
Send him to debre libanos and get in and out under water 7 times ,if did not work right away please cont’d to do that till EPRDF go away and we will take you to lake Tand ,that will wash your caracter of non-Ethiopian sitizen.
06/22/05 @ 23:27
= Comment from: Disappointed Ethiopian. [Visitor]
How came a man become WOMAN?? How came a man kiss a man with mastashe?. This is not about being civilized or being educated this is about a Question of WHO are You?. Ask yourself who am I? whats my natural character and what Im suppose to do?. Peopel this a moral question. And its your obligation to take respostibilty about yourslef. This is lazyness and carless about yourself. For sake of God your guys disgusting sickness, bring, a diesease which human bing never seen befor on earth. You bring chaos for poor nation to be suffer and die, becasue you. You guys are in Charge of for Killing my Mother, becasue of the Disease you brought it. CAN’T YOU GET IT, What is this all about?? I know HIV/AIDS is the main epedmic clear in your bullshite community, I hope that will destroy you, With your sick MIND.
06/22/05 @ 23:34
= Comment from: EthioGay [Visitor]
Well done brother Leo and for those of you who question his natural sexual preference can you try wacth your own steps rather seeing somebody else life and points out your toxic thoughts. You guys who ignor ones individual right and cry to have so many democracy right don’t make fundamental errors by condeming human beings basic rights. Leo hope God will give u the courage and guidance to survive in this world. Peoples who question the validity of homosexuality in Ethiopia pls wake up and smell your coffee. We are plenty and too cute to be straight as well.
06/22/05 @ 23:38
= Comment from: Alem [Visitor]
I hate when liberals argue and ask people to be "Open Minded". Being "Open Minded" does not mean, you can not tell wrong from right. I see everything in terms of wrong or right, and make my judgments based on my moral values, which is based on my Ethiopian culture and faith, Christianity.
The Bible unequivocally says homosexuality is SIN. For me, that is the end of story. It is SIN and against Nature. My message to faggots is keep your business to yourself and don’t try to push your gay agenda by making it seem you are born that way. How could you have ex-gay people. This is a lifestyle choice made by wicked people. Some white frat boys in college start it as "fun" and become gay. And some get raped in jail. Unfortunately with so many Ethiopians born in foreign culture, you will hear more and more about weird Ethiopians in the future and damage our culture. But if they come to Ethiopia and try to be "activist", throw them to jail. The penal code in Ethiopia is 10 years in jail.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE DISGUST with such wicked behavior. Be it Moslem or Christian, our culture is totally against it and will remain so. The idiot above mentioned homosexuality exists in animals, get a life man. Read your bible or Koran. Unless you are communist or atheist, every religious person knows homosexuality is SIN. Even Hindus, Buddhism all condemn it. My message to Leoul and all other faggots, seek God’s help and you will be cured of your wicked ways.
06/22/05 @ 23:53
= Comment from: EthioGay [Visitor]
Alem Bible says Lies are SIN so can u stop lying from today on??? There is no greater or lesser sins on Jugdment day.
06/22/05 @ 23:58
= Comment from: Endale [Visitor]
Sorry leoule, i wish if you could understand what the reality is before any one gonna tell you. be what ever you want to be, but figure out what the truth is. i don’t think you should worry about being a sinner, but how do you feel when you sleep with a man and mess your respected private with that nasty sh…..t. please, after you slept, smell it. what do you feel? nobody shouldn’t advice you because you can make your own decision. if you still love it, keep up, but i don’t think. i know we Ethiopian have problem with domestic abuse. today my mind doesn’t function properly because i had been abused badly. you still young you can make a difference. think about it leoule.
06/23/05 @ 00:04
= Comment from: Doodo [Visitor]
Have your parents ever visited a psychiatrist? If not, please send them a note to do so.
06/23/05 @ 01:27
= Comment from: Dutch [Visitor]
More power to brother Leoule, We Habesha orgin GAYS are deeply touched and at the same time very proud with your achievement. WE once again HABESAH GAYS are everywhere(Ethio-Eri and the globe), to set things straight we are not sorry creatures, we are asserative and more in tune with nature and sprituality than most of your frozen idiots.
Our so called Habesha and religious upbringing caused lots of the catlicies for Leo.’s problem with his parent. And for theoes of you who are using the religious and cultural manter as bases for your argument pls. be advice some of us are Athist/Agnostiics.
06/23/05 @ 01:40
= Comment from: To all [Visitor]
I am trying to figure this out… for those who are saying gay people are responsble for HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia/World does that mean the husbands and wifes of those with the virus closted GAY guys ? or are those wifes and husbands infected by the virus by cheated on their spouses with a gay person….. but then if a gay person does not sleep with the opposite sex then how did it make the jump to the straight world?
Note: that HIV is transmited mainly through sexual contact…
One way or another saying HIV is a Gay disease does not support what some of you are trying to preach.
06/23/05 @ 01:56
= Comment from: Alem [Visitor]
When HIV first surfaced, it was in the early 80’s in San Francisco among gay people. So it did originate among gays. But then there are those so called bisexual people who mess with both sexes and transferred the virus to hetrosexual people, now you get it. But the White Man wants you to belive that it originated in Africa with Monkey sex when in fact it was first surfaced in Fagburg USA (i.e San Francisco) among gay white men. Repent and you will be cured of this wicked disease. There are many gays who were cured of this disease.
06/23/05 @ 02:11
= Comment from: titi [Visitor]
Wat a touchy story! your abusive parents are waiting a hell lotta questions up above for makin’ your life this miserable. But man,unless this dirty stuff is sth. u wanna do, there are many kids out there on the street tryin’ to build a normal life N’ be someone someday.
So,boy! Wake up! pray for watever has happend N’ do sth. for your soul coz’ it’s never too late.
Just know that "IF THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY"
06/23/05 @ 03:40
= Comment from: love ethio [Visitor]
Dear Leoule. There is nothing great like kissing ur boyfrend.I am proud of who u are.Please forget these fanatic and guregna habeshas. Our culture and religion tought us GURENYNET and ASMESAYENET for many years,,,,While we are the poorest country in the world. We should learn who we are and work on our identity rather FISHCA BEDIHINET. God creates u to be handsome gay, that’s one of the blessing from God. I admire recognizing ur sexuality at the early age. I have seen many Ethiopian identify their sexuality after they got marred and finally they end up divorce. That’s one of the main reason increasing divorce rate among Ethiopian. Dear brother. Look those who are higly educated and strong gay Ethiopian in us and ethio. Ignore those who are Wegenya abesah.
06/23/05 @ 04:16
= Comment from: Genet [Visitor]
Hero Leoil, You are a model for many of Ethioian who are in the closit.More than 60% Ethiopian are lisbian and gay. Enjoy life with us. Well come to the club!
06/23/05 @ 04:23
Comment from: Idris [Visitor]
I am very sorry that you and your siblings, like many other young people grew up in an unhealthy family environment. You as well as your parents should be proud of your academic achievement.
In the end, what matters most is whether you are a good, caring, honest, and loving human being. God equally loves all his children.
06/23/05 @ 04:45
= Comment from: liya [Visitor]
look dude ,this the first time i have heard habesha admitting he is gay and must say it was a shock, Look we are no body to judge u but as another habesha let me say something get some help, pray,do what ever it takes cause on the bible GOD condems this type of behavoir, we all sins but repent is what GOD wants,u were born in the states so maybe u are caught up in this "gay thing" when u don’t fell normal, so please put ur past behind and get ur life staright,and ia don’t think u were born gay cause in my opinion GOD won’t create u like that and condem u. nobody has a perfect child hood trust me there are ppl out there who have seen more than u have but am really glad that u are still in school hope u make it
06/23/05 @ 05:40
= Comment from: Lealem [Visitor]
To the visitor who refreshed my memory on animals homosexuality.
It is true to say an abundance of animals exhibit behavior that in humans would be called gay, but one thing you have to understand is evolution tends to weed out traits that discourage reproduction. This is not a theory but a fact that all gay species have to face this consequence sooner or later. Meaning just being wiped out without leaving an offspring, unless and otherwise they copulate with an opposite sex.
Due to the fact that sexual deviants are being granted an ever-increasing intellectual backing for their barbarous lifestyle, some of these individuals have gone too far. Don’t be surprised if I tell you in Sweden recent statistics collected have already shown that bestiality (meaning sex between human and animals) is on an increase. Don’t also be surprised if one day such individuals build-up groups and come out on the streets to have sexual intercourse right with their dogs, pigs, donkeys etc. It is reasonable to believe that the same holds true for other sexually liberal countries.
Is this what you wish to our country too?
So please watch out. Would you rather guide and teach your children such mishap form of life or that of God’s will? God is present and one day what has happened to Sodom & Gomorra shall happen again, just be honest to yourself and others.06/23/05 @ 06:58
= Comment from: Abereham [Visitor]
u back ward by everything. each and every ppl here may be your young brother or sister or your elder one is gay or lesbian, may he or she is living under cover scaring your ugly mind and mouth….apparentlly with out any safe sax he or she lost her life because of luck of safe sax information from profationals…. may be he or she comitted socide because of luck of psicological help… you don’t know whats happen in your familly, but you JOUGE JOUGE allwayes every where, but stilll you are back ward… look your self not other person. are u solition maker or Distractive? are u living with the reality or with logic?
if u say with logic "Codom is UNBIBLE" but the reality is 2 Million ETHIOPIAN children are orpan cus of AIDS. BIBLICAL ETHIOPIA is number 3 with AIDS, number 1 with poverty… but still we are in Strotype… shame on you!!!!those who open your BIG mouth for JOUGE everywhere and allways…
06/23/05 @ 07:06
= Comment from: Bedada Gemeda [Visitor]
Is this the grandson of Goshu wolde. If yes no wonder. What else do we expect from a family raised by Goshu Wolde,the foriegn minister of DERG.
Surviving on the streets: Sexuality and HIV/AIDS among male street youth in Dessie, Ethiopia
By Getnet Tadele
This study in Dessie, a provincial town in Ethiopia, is part of the research findings of my ongoing PhD project titled “Ethnography of Sex: An Exploration of the Socio-economic and Cultural Context of Sexuality and HIV/AIDS among Ethiopian Youth”. Three focus group discussions (FGDs) with a total of 30 street children were conducted, and a lot of informal talks and discussions were held during the entire fieldwork period that took place between October 2001-February 2002.
The study revealed that street children and youth gain very little from their daily activities. They feel bored and frustrated with life because they cannot engage in gainful employment through which they could earn money. Given their preoccupation with unemployment and lack of money, the problem of HIV/AIDS was not raised in discussions about difficulties and worries in their daily life. Their knowledge about HIV/AIDS was fragmented, but they were aware of the necessity to use condoms.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the informants remarked that it is safer to have sex with prostitutes than with ‘ordinary’ girls or female students, because the former are more careful and insist on the use of condoms. The paper argues that the context should be specified in order to claim that prostitutes consistently use condoms.
January 27, 2009 – Behind the Mask
Ethiopian gays threatened as clerics seek homosexuality ban
by Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM reporter)
Ethiopia – 27January 2009: Ethiopian religious leaders have called on the country’s government to amend the constitution and ban homosexuality, a law which was never mentioned in the constitution of that country before. In a meeting held in December 2008 in Addis Ababa, where heads of various congregations including the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches met, a resolution was made that seeks to end homosexuality which was branded as “the pinnacle of immorality.” According Sonic Casuist of ETHIOGLBTI, a gay rights group in Ethiopia, homosexuality is still perceived as taboo and nonexistent in that country and many homosexuals are still in the closet.
“It is hidden, no one is out. The general population would like to claim that it does not exist”, she revealed. Abune Paolos of Ethopia’s Orthodox Church, the second most influential church in Ethiopia with 40 percent of the population being its devoted followers, told reporters that homosexuals are “stupid” and should not be tolerated. “For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behavior, they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be taught a lesson.”
While homosexuality is illegal under the country’s penal code it is not mentioned in the constitution. “The Ethiopian constitution bans any discrimination based on gender or any other reasons. However the penal code states that homosexuality is illegal”, Casuist pointed out. She further highlighted that even though homosexuality is illegal in the country the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community congregates at secluded places. “For those of us who live here we make and build our communities. We get together and we have places to go in the evenings however nothing is out in the open, it’s a hidden community”, Casuist said.
ETHIOGLBTI is a group that aims to increase public awareness and understanding of LGBTI issues in Ethiopia.
February 2, 2009 – PinkNews
Ethiopian faith leaders call for constitutional ban on homosexuality
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The leaders of the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches have called on the government of Ethiopia for a constitutional ban on homosexuality. At present the constitution makes no mention of homosexuality. Male homosexual behaviour is illegal and carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. Although there is no provision under Ethiopian law for lesbianism there is the presumption that the punishment would be the same.
"For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals," an Orthodox leader told journalists after the meeting. "We strongly condemn this behaviour, they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be taught a lesson." Christians make up around 63% of the country’s population with of them 43% Ethiopian Orthodox. Muslims make up almost 34%. According Sonic Casuist of ETHIOGLBTI, a gay rights group in Ethiopia, homosexuality is still perceived as taboo and nonexistent in that country and many homosexuals are still in the closet.
"It is hidden, no one is out. The general population would like to claim that it does not exist," she told mask.org.za. "For those of us who live here we make and build our communities. We get together and we have places to go in the evenings however nothing is out in the open, it’s a hidden community."
April 9, 2009 – Behind the Mask
Ethiopian Gays Vow To Have Their Voices Heard
by Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Reporter)
Ethiopoa – For the first time in Ethiopia, gay people are meeting and making concrete connections despite religious leaders in that country calling on government to, in addition to the penal code, ban homosexuality on the constitution as well. Members of Ethioglbt are meeting and working to effect positive change, something that they admit, will take time. Sonic Casuist, a member of Ethioglbt says the gay community in Ethiopia has been living in shadows.
“And now for the first time they are meeting together and making real tangible connections with each other. Our main initiative is to form a real community; we are doing that and rigorously working towards it.” In a move to cast out homosexuality, in December 2006 clerics of various denominations urged law makers in Ethiopia to ban homosexuality, arguing that it was a foreign practice. Abune Paolos of Ethopia’s Orthodox Church, the second most influential church in Ethiopia with 40 percent of the population being its devoted followers, had told reporters that homosexuals are “stupid” and should not be tolerated.
“For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behavior, they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be taught a lesson.” In spite of these oppressive suggestions, the LGBTI community has implemented an initiative that aims to document violations geared towards the LGBTI community in that country. “I have a group of people with whom I work with in order to advance LGBTI lives here. Right now we are beginning to document any attacks or incidents of abuse against LGBTI people”, Casuist said.
Homosexuality in Ethiopia still remains taboo and considered, by many, to be a punishable sin because of the predominantly religious society. While homosexuality is illegal under that country’s penal code, punishable by three years imprisonment, the constitution makes no reference to homosexuality.
May 19, 2009 – Behind The Mask
Secretive Lives For Gays In Conservative Ethiopia
Addis Ababa (AFP) – It’s nearly an hour before midnight in a street in one of Addis Ababa’s bustling districts and less than a dozen young men can be spotted below the glow of half-lit street lights. In near-slow motion, a handful of vehicles pass by over potholed roads while gay men and male prostitutes hold discreet conversations on cracked pavements. In Piazza, one of the Ethiopian capital’s oldest sections, narrow alleyways that buzz with stone-walled shops and cafes during daytime offer rare and safe rendezvous spots for homosexuals, considered no less than criminals in the conservative Horn of Africa nation.
"There is always the need for extra precaution as possibilities of arrest and harassment are usually high," a young gay mobile phone seller told AFP on condition of anonymity. Laws against homosexuality are not unusual in Africa, where nearly three-quarters of the continent — at least 38 countries — have outlawed consensual gay sex. Ethiopia is no exception. Under its penal code, the very act itself can bring three years behind bars. And if the offender "makes a profession of such activities" the penalty rises to up to five years.
The law also seeks a maximum sentence of up to ten years if any kind of coercion is involved. Yet, there are calls for more stringent rules against the homosexual community whose exact size is impossible to determine due to fears of repression. Recently, the heads of the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic churches, as well as Islam, adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to amend the constitution to ban the sexual orientation, which they termed a "pinnacle of immorality".
"This is something very strange in Ethiopia, the land of the Bible that condemns this very strongly," said Abune Paolos, the patriarch of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church, the nation’s largest religious denomination. "For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals," he said. "We strongly condemn this behaviour. They have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be given a lesson."
Ethiopian culture is heavily influenced by Paolos’ state-backed church, which urges conservative sexual practices. The taboo is so extreme that even an association that works to help male sexual assault victims has been a victim of prejudice. "We rarely receive any funding apart from UNAIDS and a number of other US-based organisations," Sultan Wuhe, a former homosexual prostitute and child rape victim, says of his NGO, the Bright for Children Voluntary Association. "I have even encountered insults. One NGO president once labelled my organisation ‘a bunch of faggots’ and asked me to leave his office," he adds.
Apart from tight government restrictions, social stigma has driven homosexuals into virtual hiding. For fear of arrest and humiliation, members usually switch from place to place and avoid revealing their identity at all costs. As such, they have developed an elaborate way of distinguishing and communicating with each other. "Members are always clean-shaved with some having red paint on their fingernails," one member said, while using his fingers to illustrate. "After observing those characteristics, you either blink at one another or flip lip balm tubes to give signs." Others find it easier to socialise with foreign expatriates in Addis Ababa, who usually feel sympathetic towards Ethiopian homosexuals.
Yet, rather paradoxically, the community has rarely experienced violence, but any possibility to decriminalise the orientation suffered a blow in 2006 when one homosexual sought to establish a legal association but was promptly turned down by the government. Afterwards, NGO officials say the individual had to leave the country due to harassment. Much of the government’s reluctance relates to the increasing number of sexual assaults on minors. Of the more than 10,000 rape cases last year, 22 percent involved young boys, some even as young as two, according to government figures.
Several westerners have also been implicated in such incidents during the past few years. The most notorious occurred in the mid-1990s when dozens of young victims of Ethiopia’s 1984 famine were sexually abused in an orphanage run by Swiss-based charity group Terre des Hommes. "For years I’ve been struggling over my sexual identity and needed time to gain sanity," Wuhu says. The 28-year-old says he was gang-raped by five of the NGO’s foreign staff when he was 14, and worked as a prostitute providing services to men for three years after leaving the orphanage.
He adds he is aware that his main assailants have served time in jail in their respective countries. "Homosexuality should be discouraged by whatever means and the government should do whatever it takes to stop it," he says. "Many western countries have penalised those who spoke out against homosexuality. The reason for that is because they lost the opportunity to block its trend in the first place," says Daniel Ferede, a member of parliament. "We should tackle this scourge at all costs."
January 29, 2010 – Behind The Mask
Ethiopia To Tackle Sexuality In All Its Forms
by Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Senior Reporter)
Ethiopia – Gender based violence, sexual orientation, gender equality and sexuality of people living with HIV/AIDS will be issues discussed at the upcoming Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, 8-12 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This fourth conference is expected to open up discourse about sexuality in Africa and to source possible insights of reducing the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.
This time there was consultation the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to get their views in preparation for the conference, according to Uwem Esiet, one of the organizers. “During the planning meeting, we made sure that the MSM community was represented, and that we get an Ethiopian researcher on MSM issues to share his thoughts with us”, Esiet said.
According to UNICEF, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia stands at 980 000. UNAIDS statistics further indicate that 5 to10 percent of all HIV infections worldwide are due to sexual transmission between men. UNAIDS also states that only one in 20 MSM have access to HIV prevention and treatment.
“I believe that together we can help improve the sexual rights climate in Africa”, Esiet said. Homosexual behavior is illegal in Ethiopia under the country’s Penal Code, punishable by up to five years imprisonment. The implacable reality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to cloud the African continent and in most African states, such as Ethiopia, homosexuality remains illegal and cast of as a western behavior.
“The situation in Ethiopia is very difficult and to raise the homosexual debate is not easy because of the hostility in society. Although there is a fair amount of people who are out, like me, getting support from other LGBTI people to form a movement remains a hurdle because Ethiopia is also a religious society holding very homophobic views”, said Sathya Abeshawit Zega, human rights defender in Ethiopia. Africasexuality.org says the conference is also expected to “affirm that sexuality is an integral part of all persons, with freedom to express that in any form without coercion, fear, harm or violations and with people able to make informed decisions about their sexuality.”