Why is it good that Ethiopians are debating homosexuality?

It is awfully painful to read online trolling, threats, hateful and dehumanising comments, and insults on Twitter against the queer Ethiopian community. Yet, I can’t help feeling that there are opportunities that arise from the explosion of support in spite of the extreme hatred on social media platforms.

It started when religious groups, particularly the Ethiopian Orthodox church, protested against the Toto Tour plan to visit Ethiopia. According to BBC news, “Toto Tours describes itself on its website as having served the LGBT community since 1990.”

This is one of the few times we see in Ethiopia a highly publicised protest against the LGB community and a strong international backlash. In 2012, there was a “pro-gay conference that was scheduled to take place in the capital Addis Ababa by a human rights group” as an attempt to start a conversation. However, religious organisations and politically active civil society members strongly protested against the platform and it ended up being cancelled.

However, this year, following the controversy with the Toto Tour, coupled with the international #PrideMonth celebration, it is unexpected to notice a small group of Ethiopians expressing solidarity with the queer community. The voices of these few supporters were quite visible, as they were met with widespread and hostile reactions. Ethiopia has never allowed opening up of any conversation or even recognised the existence of the LGB community in the country. This is in fact supported by research reports from Addis Ababa University and abroad.

Continue reading at GenderIT.org.


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