Ethiopia: Online death threats against LGBT people

LGBT flag map of Ethiopia
LGBT flag map of Ethiopia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An article in the online news site Bikyanews.com sounded optimistic: Under the headline “A better Ethiopia for gay people,” it told of a young gay accountant in Ethiopia whose success at work created an impression that Ethiopians were becoming more accepting of the gay community.

But his life outside the office was so difficult that it was clear that that headline about “a better Ethiopia” was overly optimistic. The article soon attracted  online commenters whose violent remarks dissolved any remaining optimism.

In response, Biyanews.com reported, “A number of comments and angry emails have been flowing in that call for the death of Ethiopia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.” For example:

  • “kill them all these rubbish people. the country never allowed this kind of community.”
  • “Our community dont tolerate such disgusting practice, if you want to be a gay then please leave our country.”

“Sometimes you just can get around those types of people,”  said the accountant, David Emete.  “If they don’t understand or meet gay people, they won’t know better.”

In the original article, Emete admitted that his life was far from easy:

“Just walking down the street, many people know that I am gay and they say the worst things to me,” he told Bikyanews.com one recent evening at a local café. For him, the rise in homophobia has been “shocking” as he believes Ethiopia is still a tolerant society in comparison to neighboring East African countries where being gay is punishable by death. …

The worst was three weeks ago when a local youth gang attacked him, beating him in an alley after he told them to be quiet. … [When] he went to report the attack, which saw him break two ribs, the police laughed at him. …

He said that an anti-gay article published June 18 in the Yenga daily triggered a rise in antagonism against LGBT people.  The article described gay men as “sex-craved addicts,” said that “gayness” was growing dramatically in Ethiopia, to the point where the “infestation of those carriers” totaled at least 16,000 people.

The article alleged that gay men average 75 sex partners per year — a practice  “imported” to Ethiopia by students study in the United States and Europe on scholarships.

Emete said, “I will have to buy a car and drive to work if this keeps up because I fear that I could be killed if nothing changes.”

Read the full articles here: “Ethiopia online users call for death to gay people” and here: “A better Ethiopia for gay people.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

7 Comments

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  1. So sad that people feel the need to judge. I’d like to know more about the person before writing them off because of a sexual preference that doesn’t affect me.

  2. Ethiopia has been proud and independent from time immemorial, from the pathetic attempts at western domination AND perverted influence. Stay out of our country, you are not welcome.

  3. Every man has the right to practice his sexuallity in a civilized nation just let them be who they are, what they doing might be seen as evil but we should not hate on them, kill them, hit them they still gods child instead of showing them hate we should advise them make them aware what they doing is not acceptable in God eyes and help them to get back on God given sexuallity if the are willing to get back God bless them if they don’t it’s there loss, at least you tried so people let’s stop hatred, you can’t fight fire with fire keep that in mind

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