An upcoming conference on AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Africa has sparked controversy after religious leaders and government officials in Ethiopia held a meeting on Tuesday 29 November, 2011, over whether or not to ban gay rights activists gathering on the fringes of the international meeting. The meeting came after religious leaders canceled a news conference called to denounce the planned conference of gay rights activists.
The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa will be held in the capital Addis Ababa this coming Sunday, where more than 200 activists, experts and UN officials are expected to participate.
Following the attempt by the religious community to ban the conference, Ethiopian netizens turned to Facebook to discuss homosexuality in their country. Homosexuality in Ethiopia is a crime and is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.
According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 97% of Ethiopian residents said that homosexuality should be rejected by society, which was the second-highest percentage rejecting homosexuality among the 44 countries surveyed, exceeded only by Mali with 98%.
However, some Ethiopians netizens on Facebook start to have a different perspective on homosexuality.
Hallelujah calls for a civilized public debate about the issue:
Sooner or later we need to have a civilized public debate about the issue. We shouldn't hate or discriminate,but rather be bold,articulate and critical enough to express our disapproval of the practice of Homosexuality from a spiritual,moral,social,health and nature and survival perspectives.
Below is a comment thread that followed Hallelujah's message on his wall.
Lilly Kidane thinks that we need to be compassionate about the issue:
We need to address it and try to be compassionate about it as well, we have created God in our image and what ever we dont like and we dont understand and we judge we say God doesnt like it either, but God should be, in my opinion, beyond all this small stuff of who is sleeping with whom. We all need to find what makes us happy and be greatful for it
how boring would it be if the whole world be the same. It takes all kinds of people to fill up the world
Bisrat Teshome says emotional reactions to homosexuality are unacceptable:
As to me, i don't consider homosexuality as a problem by itself. It is preference of people. People are rational and have the right and full knowledge to choose what is good for themselves (of course under the umbrella of the legal system of the country). These types of emotional and discriminatory reactions from religions are unacceptable.
Osman Mohammedsiraj says that the debate should be on how to protect Ethiopians from “the spread of the epidemic”:
Gay and lesbian rights are among issues that are not worth discussing in Ethiopia, since it is forgone conclusion that everyone across all religious affiliation disapproves them. But the discussion should rather be how to protect our people from spread of the epidemic
Nuhamin Getachew believes homosexuality has no place in Ethiopia:
i am thanking God for those of us who still believe it is an utterly unnatural act. Also,i CAN NOT believe i am reading approvals for it from ETHIOPIANS?? Guys please,let us keep the dignified country our proud forefathers handed to us and not confuse civilization and plain immorality!!
I think we are missing the ONLY point here….Since when people treated so awfully like this for THINGS they practice on themselves?
Mesfin Tekle says that Africa needs to deal with the issue:
This issue is very complex but sooner or later our country and the continent of Africa will have to deal with it. This is not a curable disease like polio that you can prevent with a vaccination.
Bob Herold asks:
Something to think about. What if one of your children who you have LOVED, nutured, and provided for came to you and said, ” I am gay”. Could you just turn your back on them. Does this make them a terrible person. As a matter of fact does this change them in any way other than what they do in the PRIVACY of there on home. Hmmm.
Selam Araya sees homosexuality as a sign of a confused generation:
I was trying to read the comments and debates above. and just wondered “what would be the response of the past generation to this issue.” I would guess completely against homosexuality” even better, how about the next generation. I would guess completely pro to it. we are the confused generation!
Agenda of the Meeting at Jupiter hotel revealed.
For the World HIV conference which will be held at millennium hall, the main point of the agenda is “To stop the spread of HIV AIDS and homosexuality as a solution” … another objective of this meeting is to influence the Ethiopia government to make a supportive law to accept this extremely bad practice which leads to corrupt families and the country.
To do this, they are trying spend a lot of money and plead support of the international organizations.
Well respected, rich and educated people in Ethiopia are actively participating in this as if this is the peak of their knowledge and wisdom.
And anyone who believes in the existence of God …. anyone who knows how to live in a society should object/protest this bad practice which spoiled Europe and the Western world.
The debates continues on Facebook, which more than 90% of Internet users in Ethiopia have access to.