Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Criminal Code 2004, Article 629 Homosexual and other Indecent Acts

Article 629 criminalises homosexual or indecent acts, punishable with at least one year of imprisonment. This provision criminalises such acts both between men and between women.1

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Ethiopia indicated that there were no reports of persons being prosecuted for engaging in same-sex sexual activities.

2013

The US Department of State Human Rights Report found examples of LGBT individuals being placed under detention, where they were interrogated and allegedly subjected to physical abuse.

Statements by Public Figures

2014

In April, a government spokesman, Redwan Hussein, announced that plans to hold an anti-gay rally and to add homosexuality to a list of non-pardonable offences had been dropped. On homosexuality, Mr. Hussein commented: “It is not a serious crime… Plus, [homosexuality] is not as widespread as some people suggest. It is already a crime and a certain amount of punishment is prescribed for it. The government thinks the current jail term is enough.”

[Homosexuality] is not a serious crime… The government thinks the current jail term is enough.

Redwan Hussein, Government Spokesperson

Plans to stage an anti-gay rally in the country had been announced to protest what event organisers described as “rising incidents” of homosexuality. Head of one Christian group, Dereje Negash, stated: “The country has seen an increase in gay-related activities and this has reached an alarming stage”. Another report quotes Negash comparing homosexuality with child abuse: “Children are being raped by gay people in this country. Just yesterday we have met a woman whose boy was raped by two other men. All in all, gay acts are against health, the law, religion and our culture”.

In March, there were plans to add homosexuality to a list of non-pardonable offences under Ethiopia’s amnesty law. According to one report, Ethiopia’s President often pardons “thousands of prisoners” in the Ethiopian New Year. Under the proposed law, this power would no longer exist in relation to those charged with homosexuality. Head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Tiruneh Zena, downplayed the effect of the new law, stating: “I won’t say the proposed law is not a cause of concern but I don’t think the law will affect the LGBT community in a serious way.”2

In February, Ethiopian Minister for Women, Zenebu Tadesse, won praise for a tweet condemning Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. The tweet, which read: “There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It’s not Governments’ business to make dress code or anti-gay laws”, was later denied by the Minister who blamed the tweet on her twitter account being hacked: “I’m really saddened and traumatized by the action of the hackers, this is neither mine nor the governments view, homosexuality is a crime under the Ethiopian criminal code… How can I say this, it doesn’t even fit with my personality at all”.

2013

In June, Head of United for Life Ethiopia, Dr. Seyoum Antonios, claimed in a presentation at the Campus Crusade For Christ-sponsored “Pamoja III” conference held near Lagos, Nigeria, that 33% of homosexuals are paedophiles and that gay people are 15 times more likely to be murderers than straight people. According to Forbes magazine, Campus Crusade for Christ was the 20th largest charity in the United States in 2013, receiving more than $500 million in private donations.

In May, it was reported that United for Life were hopeful that the death penalty for homosexuality would be introduced at a conference on the effects of homosexuality in the country.

Persecution and Discrimination

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Ethiopia indicated that there were some reports of violence against LGBT individuals, but that reporting was limited due to fear of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatisation.

2013

The US Department of State Human Rights Report found examples of violence being committed against LGBT individuals, with some reporting that they had been followed and “feared for their safety”. Many experiences of violence were not reported out of a fear of reprisals.

2012

An in-depth study conducted by the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal found that “homosexuality is viewed adversely and with considerable hostility by the broader community”, whilst national newspapers have persistently warned against the Western importation and promotion of homosexuality.

Legislative News

2014

During its second UPR cycle, Ethiopia noted recommendations to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults.

2010

Similarly, in its first UPR cycle, recommendations to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults “did not enjoy the support of Ethiopia.”

Footnotes
1. Criminal Code 2004, Article 629 Homosexual and other Indecent Acts

“Article 629. Homosexual and other Indecent Acts.

Whoever performs with another person of the same sex a homosexual act, or any other indecent act, is punishable with simple imprisonment.

Article 630. General Aggravation to the Crime.

(1) The punishment shall be simple imprisonment for not less than one year…” Full text.

2. The Australian

Elias Meseret, “Ethiopia to pass anti-gay bill”, The Australian, 26 March 2014, accessed 8 October 2014.

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