by Rhuaridh Marr
March 23, 2014 1:35 PM
Ethiopia’s Pardon and Amnesty law will be amended to include homosexuality alongside corruption, human-trafficking, rape, terrorism and smuggling as offenses which are non-pardonable by the country’s president. The Council of Ministers endorsed the measure last week, with a vote in parliament scheduled to take place next week as Minister of State Getachew Bedane urged the parliament to deliver a quick result.
Same-sex acts are illegal in Ethiopia, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. “The decision to include homosexuality in this bill is simply pure ignorance on the part of the government,” wrote gay rights blogger Addcafé. “The rest of the world is decriminalizing homosexuality … because it is now being realized that sexual orientation is a basic human right too. It’s deeply troubling to see Ethiopia opting out of this global consciousness.”
Equal rights group Rainbow Ethiopia issued a statement, criticizing the proposed law. “Ethiopia has already very harsh anti-LGBT laws, including a 25 year imprisonment for anyone infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts. The situation, however, is getting worse as it seems the government is trying to its emulate Nigeria’s and Uganda’s anti-gay laws.”
Nigeria and Uganda both recently implemented laws which increase the punishment for homosexuality. Same-sex acts in Uganda are punishably by up to life imprisonment, while Nigerians charged with similar offences have their sentences capped at 14 years.
A 2007 survey by Pew Global Attitudes Project found that 97 percent of Ethiopians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted as a legitimate way of life, the second-highest rate among the 45 countries surveyed.