(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Criminal Code prohibits sexual acts between men and between women, with penalties including 10 days to 3 years’ imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations.
In December 2008, several religious figures adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to endorse a constitutional ban on homosexual activity.
The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Proclamation No. 414/2004:
Section II – SEXUAL DEVIATIONS
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, or, in grave cases, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years, where the criminal:
a) takes unfair advantage of the material or mental distress of another or of the authority he exercises over another by virtue of his position, office or capacity as guardian, tutor, protector, teacher, master or employer, or by virtue of any other like relationship, to cause such other person to perform or to submit to such an act; or
b) makes a profession of such activities within the meaning of the law (Art. 92).
(2) The punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from three years to fifteen years, where:
a) the criminal uses violence, intimidation or coercion, trickery or fraud, or takes unfair advantage of the victim’s inability to offer resistance or to defend himself or of his feeble-mindedness or unconsciousness; or
b) the criminal subjects his victim to acts of cruelty or sadism, or transmits to him a venereal disease with which he knows himself to be infected; or
c) the victim is driven to suicide by distress, shame or despair.
Article 631 – Homosexual and Other Indecent Acts Performed on Minors.
(1) Whoever performs a homosexual act on a minor, is punishable: a) with rigorous imprisonment from three years to fifteen years, where the victim is between the ages of thirteen and eighteen years; or b) with rigorous imprisonment from fifteen years to twenty- five years, where the victim is below thirteen years of age.
(2) A woman who performs a homosexual act on a female minor, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years.
(3) Whoever performs any other indecent act on a minor of the same sex, is punishable with simple imprisonment.
(4) Where the victim is the pupil, apprentice, domestic servant or ward of the criminal, or a child entrusted to his custody or care, or in any other way directly dependant upon or subordinate to him: a) in the case of sub-article (1) the punishment to be imposed upon such criminal shall be more severe than when the crime is committed by another person; b) in the case of sub-article (2) the punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from three years to ten years;
c) in the case of sub-article (3) the punishment shall be simple imprisonment for not less than six months.
(5) Where the sexual outrage has caused death or grave physical or mental injury upon the victim, or where the victim is driven to suicide by distress, shame or despair, the punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment for life.
Amare v Secretary of State for the Home Department Court of Appeal (Civil Division), 20 December 2005 also available here Rejection of claims under the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) for gay female Ethiopian applicant on the grounds that she would hide her sexual orientation upon return to Ethiopia, as she had previously done, and that the treatment she would face was not sufficiently serious to rise to the level of persecution. Note, this judgment was prior to the 2010 HT & HJ decision, which greatly mitigated the discretion test.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT:
Homosexuality is not accepted in Ethiopia. According to a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 97% of Ethiopians believe that homosexuality should be rejected. Violence against LGBTI persons in Ethiopia was reported in the US Department of State Human Rights Report 2011, though reporting was limited due to fears of retribution, discrimination and stigmatisation.
In June 2012 an anti-homosexual conference was held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. At the conference, homosexuality was presented as a result of inappropriate upbringing leading to STDs, HIV and severe psychological disorders.
At the 2019 Universal Periodic Review (p 50 – 52) a number of recommendations were made to Ethiopia. It was also noted that that despite the major strides in fundamental rights and freedoms Ethiopia has made, LGBT persons continue to live in fear of violence and prosecution. It was deplored that same-sex acitvity is still criminalized under the 2005 Criminal Code and that access to health services remains to be a major barrier affecting the quality of life for LGBT persons in Ethiopia. Also highlighted was the need for action in the light of the anti-LGBT sentiments rampant in the country
Online Ethiopian LGBTI communities are run by LGBTI persons in the diaspora, but their reach is limited as the internet is strictly censored within Ethiopia itself.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS):
We currently have no NGOs dealing with LGBTI issues in Ethiopia listed, but welcome suggestions.
Ethiopian LGBT Community
Although not an organisation, the Ethiopian LGBT Community is a LGBTIQ+ support group/community in Ethiopia that runs a Facebook page. Its page has one of the largest followers and It is used for advocacy & to share resources. You can visit their page here https://www.facebook.com/Ethiopian-LGBT-community-2017040158620786/
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS:
We have no specialist on LGBTI for Ethiopia, but would welcome suggestions.
Resources on LGBTI in Ethiopia
- BOOSHTEE! Survival and Resilience in Ethiopia (1 April 2015) https://www.ids.ac.uk/publications/booshtee-survival-and-resilience-in-ethiopia/
- Interview with Beki Abi of DANA Social Club, Ethiopia (24 June 2016) https://www.ids.ac.uk/opinions/interview-with-beki-abi-of-dana-social-club-ethiopia/
- LGBT tour operator faces death threats over Ethiopia trip (6 June 2019) https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/jun/06/lgbt-tour-operator-faces-death-threats-over-ethiopia-trip also see https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48512407
- African Sexual Minorities & Gender Variant Resources: Homosexuality – Gay – Lesbian – Bisexual – Transgender – Transsexual – Same-Sex Sex. Sudan & Ethiopia, by Richard F Ramsay, University of Calgary
- Sexual and Gender Minority Health Program, Duke http://dukesgmhealth.org/country-profile-ethiopia/
Researched by: Karel Kingsley