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Gay gathering sparks row between Ethiopia church and state
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA Nov 29 (Reuters) - A meeting organised by an African gay lobby group ahead of an AIDS conference in Ethiopia has sparked a rare spat between the government and religious groups.
Religious leaders demand the cancellation of the gathering scheduled for Saturday, organised by African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, saying it would violate the country's conservative culture.
State officials, however, are unwilling to budge having lobbied hard to win hosting rights for the influential 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa due to start a day later.
On Tuesday, Abune Paulos, partriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, joined the Muslim mufti and the heads of the Catholic and Protestant churches for a meeting before delivering scathing remarks about homosexuals to the media.
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Anti-Gay Sentiment Flares in Ethiopia as Addis Ababa Preps for AIDS Conference
Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopia's religious leaders have abruptly canceled a news conference called to denounce a planned meeting of gay rights activists on the fringes of an international meeting on AIDS. Ethiopia's attitude toward homosexuality is shaping up as a potential flash point as some of the world's leading experts gather to discuss trends in AIDS treatment and prevention.
The leaders of Ethiopia's main religious denominations faced journalists briefly in an Addis Ababa conference room Tuesday. Abune Paulos, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was there, along with representatives of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the Roman Catholic Church, and Protestant denominations.
But before anything could be said, Ethiopia's Health Minister Tewodros Adhanom arrived and asked for a word with the religious leaders in private.
After nearly an hour, the leaders left without comment. The Reverend Iteffa Gobena Molte, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Council Mekane Yesus told reporters the event would be rescheduled.
"It's postponed to another time. And when they are ready they will call upon you to come and record them," said Iteffa.
Reporters initially were told the news conference had been called to condemn a planned conference on "men who have sex with men."
The website of a group called the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, or AMSHER, says the meeting is to be held Saturday at an Addis Ababa hotel. A list of speakers posted on the website include Michel Sidibe, director of UNAIDS, and Eric Goosby, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.
That gathering was to coincide with the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa, which opens Sunday in the Ethiopian capital. More than 8,000 experts and activists are expected to attend, and former U.S. President George W. Bush is slated to be an honored guest.
The sudden cancelation of the news briefing underscores Ethiopia's strong anti-gay sentiment. At a 2008 meeting with reporters, many of the same religious leaders urged passage of a constitutional amendment banning homosexuality.
News reports at the time quoted the clergy as calling homosexuality “the pinnacle of immorality.” Ethiopian Orthodox leader Paulos was quoted as condemning gay sex, saying, “for people to act in this manner, they have to be stupid, like animals."
Condemnation of gay sex
Reverend Iteffa said Ethiopian Protestants believe homosexuality is unnatural.
"The Protestant church teaches about homosexuality that it is not God's creation. God had created man and woman. So that is the proper creation and it continues to be there, and the Bible explicitly says in many parts of the Bible, so we claim that to be our faith as a Protestant," he said.
A statement distributed to reporters at Tuesday's canceled news conference quoted a survey showing 97 percent of Ethiopians consider gay behavior immoral. It said scheduling a conference on homosexuality in Addis Ababa shows a disregard for Ethiopia's laws and morals.
An email asking for AMSHER's response was not immediately answered.
An official standing outside Tuesday's news conference site suggested that the intervention of the Health Ministry, a major backer of the AIDS conference, indicates that the AMSHER meeting might not take place. A call to the hotel being advertised as the meeting site showed no facilities are currently reserved in AMSHER's name.
You know what? Good for them, what ever motivation they have to protest this event or why they postponed their announcement to defy the gathering is beyond me? But, I gave them credit for showing moralistic objection to stop any Gay gathering in Ethiopia. We don’t need Fags running around the country; the Ethiopian public has enough problems.
This is another example of the
carelessness, disregard to the societal religious aspects of the country and lack of in depth thinking of our so called leaders and decision makers. The people siting at decision making positions think in narrow lines and only seek attention.
A thoughtful and wise leadership would not have called for such lobbying even if discussion on AIDS is important.
Please “LEADERS” look at plans from every angle.
The hypocricy of these religeous gangs must be stopped by people who fought for equality and justice. They have every right to tell their followers about the evil or imorality of homosexuality. But they should know that they can’t impose their religeous stupidity on people who have every right to follow and practice homosexuality. Religeon is private but Ethiopia is for all and should welcome even Satan if he wants to be part of the meeting.
Do I have any right to tell the government to ban the evangelist? Not at all. They have every right to preach even about the goodness and holiness of American evangelist who are antipoor and anti imigration. So, the separation of state and church must be respected.
I believe that you have every right to oppose but no right at all to stop them from having a meeting in my beloved country.
This is astounding.
TPLF has been murdering and imprisoning thousands and yet many religious “leaders” are complicit. Some event went to the extent of collaborating with the genocidal regime by closing doors to those who sought protection and help.
Yet these hate mongers come out to preach.
If they spent half the time feeding the poor instead of stuffing their greedy faces, then where would that country be?
Homosexuality has always been there since the antiquities, and will always be there. Those who are against homosexuality should not practice it. But, at the end of the day, no one has the right to impose their view of the world on anybody else. Church and state should be separated for a reason too.
Anything that promotes homosexuality should be banned completely homosexuality including pedophilia and zoophilia is the result of being mentally and morally weak . Religious leaders did good by objecting to this event.
Im a government supporter and I praise Meles Zenawis efforts in reintroducing Ethiopia as a brand new nation headed for success and poverty elimination. EPRDF is the leading party of hope.
However this time I am shocked and disgusted. This is not what we want to be promoting.
These disgusting sick animals known as homosexuals do not belong in our Ethiopia.
This isnt religious affair. We are Christian Muslim Jew. But these fags go against not only religious laws but also the laws of human nature and society of Ethiopia.
Abune Paulos is right. They are sick animals.
Liz and solomon i see you have been exposed to this rancid white trash and have accepted this as normal.
WE THE PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA HAVE NOT.
97% of Ethiopians surveyed declared they were against these faggots and their practices.
I call on my Ethiopian brethren i dont care if ur Ortodox Pente Muslim Jew Waqefanna we need to unite against these kind of culture destroying disgraceful practices.
I need Hagos wedi Meqelle, Feyissa ke wollega, Getachew Gonderew, Cabdi ye Jijiga lij, Omod from beautiful Gambella, ALL ETHIOPIANS TO UNITE AND DEMAND OUR GOVERNMENT ILLEGALIZE THESE MEETINGS ON OUR UNCOLONIZED ETHIOPIAN SOIL.
And this time by any means including physical if necessary. Yes we will figgt for our honour.
Dejazmach Habesha a true Ethiopian has spoken.
solomon and Liz
What right do you people speak of? Gods right or American rights. This is Ethiopia don’t forget that and we will overwhelmingly object and resist any homosexual agenda. They need help not approval.
Solomon, Liz etc…
In principle I do agree with you that everyone has the right to practice what he or she pleases but there is a major factor here, culture. This is not even about religion, it is actually about culture. If you are driving 90 miles an hour and all of a sudden you make a u turn just because you saw a wonderland, doesn’t mean you will survive. You will end up in a wreck. While gay culture may have been practiced for generations in hiding, it is a new phenomenon for Ethiopians to accept it openly or to have a meeting, demonstration or open gathering of gays. It took time even in the western world and they still are fighting for more rights. I can tell tell you that the country isn’t ready yet. True, Meles and the gang are trying to put the country up there in the Map but they seem to have unrealistic ambitions in many areas. I wish them luck but these seems more of a theatrical scenario. As much as I believe that it is a learned behavior, I am also open to be convinced by scientific evidence that gay people are born gay. I am one who believe in god and that god doesn’t make mistakes but people do make mistakes on identifying the right type of whole; therefore, I am more inclined to claim it can be exorcised. What ever the case, I do respect the rights of gays and in the meantime I hope gays in Ethiopia will adopt with the culture at hand. When you are 1 or 2 percent of the society that isn’t westernized, you got a big problem. Good luck anyways.
Meles your genius never ceases to amaze me. What better way to drown out the rumors of an Arab spring in Ethiopia than finding something that will strike a nerve and raise emotions. Genius I tell you if only he used his skill set for good deeds.
Liz and solomon, you are perverts!
You can’t have it both ways:
If you think homosexuality is a private matter why do you want legitimacy and imposition on others to accept same?
Why does Ethiopia need to copy all the West crap? Is it to confirm your status of beggarism?
Why do homosexual need to expose themselves with pride and draw more children’s attention?
Sexuality is personal so is Religion as well. So stop flashing with whatever you are. Work for common good instead.
Legesse sells land to foreigners. Now he is selling venue to homosexuals. This is the curse of allowing a Banda sell out to rule over Ethiopia.
God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam, this is the very reason of our being here on this earth.
I personally do not believe that Gay ppl should be given the platform FULL STOP.
Again I am going back to the outside influence specifically the West and certain individuals like Alamudi, who are bringing in their filthy ideas and exploiting the people of Ethiopia using money. And then they try to inflict civil war by using words like its Democracy, Human Right bla bla shit.
What is next for Ethiopia??
You are showing your true color. You must be gay. You dirty bastard, you have no right to disrespect our fathers, be it Christians or Muslims. Unlike you, they know what they are talking about. Ante bisbis, afehin ziga.
The western countries lost their basic moral to degrade themselves and to behave in such unnatural manner. America is full of it! UK Spain, Germany and many other European countries display it openly and gay partners are even allowed to adopt a child. Most politicians are gay! this is the downfall of human value. to be gay is sin.period. It is clearly stated in the bible. It is not normal. such trend finally will lead to the total destruction of the human being. Now, they are to invade Africa which so far has been left not to accept such behavior and way of life. It has to be stopped by any means. It is weird and disgusting. Let us look at nature, to birds, animals ..instinct leads them to their proper mate. A human being created in the image of God behaving lesser than animal is a horrible sin. Who knows what is happening to the western countries regarding the economical down turn might have been due to such abonment of God. It has to be fought back never to be accepted in our continent similar to the morally corrupt Europe and America. It might bring an end similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. Gayism is SIN and immoral. STOP it. I am afraid some diaspora s coming especially from the US are practicing such un Ethiopian and disgusting life trying to spread such sinful way of life and should be exposed and sent back to where they belong.
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