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Ethiopian Government Backs Off Plans to Further Demonize Gays, Cancels Bill, Rally

In late MArch we reported that the Ethiopian government had introduced legislation to make criminal sentences of homosexuality 'non-pardonable' as activists in the country planned an anti-gay rally.

EthiopiaNow, the government says it believes current punishments against gays are "enough" and has withdrawn the bill and canceled a rally organized by religious groups affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the AP reports.

Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman said the anti-gay rally was on certain groups' agenda, but not the government's.

"It is not a serious crime. Plus, it is not as widespread as some people suggest. It is already a crime and a certain amount of punishment is prescribed for it. The government thinks the current jail term in enough," said Redwan, who confirmed that gay crimes would not be added to the list of unpardonable crimes.

Currently, adds the AP, "same-sex acts are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 25-year jail term is given to anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts."


Ethiopian Legislation Would Make Criminal Sentences of Homosexuality 'Non-pardonable'

The quickly escalating anti-gay trend in many African countries, including Uganda, has tacked on a new bill, this one aimed at increasing the potency of a law already in place.

EthiopiaLegislation states that Ethiopians found guilty on charges of same-sex acts can be imprisoned for up to 15 years, and persons found guilty of engaging in same-sex acts which transmitted HIV are susceptible to 25 years. Now, the Council of Ministers will likely approve a bill which would make those persons unpardonable by the president.

Mail & Guardian reports:

Ethiopia's president often pardons thousands of prisoners during the Ethiopian New Year. When the Bill becomes law, the president will lose his power to pardon prisoners facing charges ranging from homosexuality to terrorism.

As always, it is particularly disturbing to see homosexuality placed alongside inherently violent acts, though we should not forget that the equation has deep roots in American evangelism as well.

Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community credits evangelical Christian pastors with sparking the anti-gay sentiment that led to the present-day legal repercussions for homosexuals in the country.

Hopefully the bill loses the battle. We will keep you updated. 


Gay Ethiopian Teenager Faces Deportation, Persecution In Homeland

A 19 year old gay Ethiopian man is currently facing deportation by federal agents in Boston after he he stopped attending school and consequently lost his student visa, according to The Boston Globe.

EthiopiaImmigration officials arrested the young man in January. Though he appeared twice before an immigration judge last month it is unclear whether officials involved in the case are aware of the man’s sexual orientation, which he posted about on a "public forum," and the dangers he would face should he return home to Ethiopia. Those close to the young man, whose identity has been left undisclosed at this time, are concerned for his safety should he be sent back to Ethiopia given the nation’s strong anti-gay attitudes:

“This is a very serious deal,” said the student’s uncle, who spoke on condition of anonymity from Canada. “Back in his country, it will be like death.” […]

Two people in Worcester who know the young man — Todd Williams, an openly gay Republican candidate for state senator, and his campaign manager, Mesfin Beshir, a nonprofit director from Ethiopia — said in separate interviews that the student recently told them he is gay.

Williams and Beshir said they met him shortly before his arrest in January, when he asked to stay with Beshir’s family during winter break.

“He’s openly gay . . . He blatantly told me, ‘I’m gay,’ ” Williams said in a telephone interview. “If he’s returned or deported to Ethiopia, I’m in fear of what may happen to him.”

Beshir said the man seemed to suffer emotional troubles, sometimes seeming irritated and shutting himself in the guest room. He said he worried for the man’s safety if forced to return to Ethiopia.

“Culturally, he will be an outcast,” said Beshir […]

In Ethiopia, according to the State Department, gay people have been jailed, interrogated, and allegedly abused, and many reported anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. Amnesty International said gay people face up to 15 years in prison in that country for aggravated offenses.

The young man, whose actions of late have seemed “erratic” to some, will also undergo a mental health review that was requested by the immigration judge presiding over his case. The 19-year-old has not officially requested asylum, which detainees may apply for if they fear returning home, however “lawyers say many foreigners are reluctant to confide in their jailers.”

Previously we reported that gay Ethiopians may soon face the death penalty for so-called aggravated offenses. Recently, fellow African nations Uganda and Nigeria enacted harsh anti-gay laws that are already beginning to have dire consequences for LGBT individuals.


Western Evangelical Group Pushing Ethiopia to Impose Death Penalty for Gays

Will Ethiopia consider imposing the death penalty for homosexuality? Bikya News seems to think so:

EthiopiaAn anti-gay organization that held a recent workshop on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in Ethiopia is reporting that the death penalty against gay people in Ethiopia may be on the horizon.

The workshop reportedly looked with the social ‘evils’ and ‘disastrous’ effects of homosexuality in Ethiopia, and was led by United for Life Ethiopia, a Western Evangelical Christian organization with local representation.

Government officials, religious leaders, leading heath professionals, charities and members of the public attended the event at the Bethel Teaching Hospital in Addis Ababa, last week. In the workshop police alleged ‘homosexual family members and neighbors’ have sexually abused 117 boys last year. It comes on the heels of much antagonism toward the LGBT community in Ethiopia.

GSN adds:

At the conclusion of the workshop, the EICAH representative stated that the council is ‘making progress’ in convincing the government to be stricter on homosexuality and introduce the death penalty to punish ‘such acts’.

The ECIAH representative added that prospects for capital punishment being legislated against gays ‘seems promising’.

The United for Life Ethiopia (ULE), led by Dr Seyoum Antonios, sponsored the event as well as ECIAH.

ULE is a Western Evangelical organization that receives funding in the UK and US and offers to ‘cure’ gayness as well as campaigning aggressively against LGBT people in the country.


When Trash Met Lava: VIDEO

LavaTrash

This video isn't quite as funny, poignant or touching as the late Nora Ephron's When Harry Met Sally, but it's still pretty captivating: a team of scientist threw a 66 pound bag of garbage into Ethiopia's Erta Ale volcano to simulate what would happen if a human fell in. Answer: angry lava.

Watch the volcano spew forth, AFTER THE JUMP

(via Gawker)

Continue reading "When Trash Met Lava: VIDEO" »


NEWS: Bishop Eddie Long's Marital Woes, Ethopia's Inhospitality, Obamacare Is Happening, And A 3D Tour Of An Extraterrestrial Body

Vesta3D
Road The space probe Dawn has now gathered enough data on the asteroid Vesta to allow NASA to create a guided tour in 3D. You'll need red and green 3D glasses to view properly. Watch AFTER THE JUMP! And marvel: once Dawn's done with Vesta, she'll spin out of the asteroid's gravity well using super-futuristic ion propulsion and rendezvous with the dwarf planet Ceres, which is orbiting the sun at 17 kilometers per second. Science is awesome!  [HT: Phil Plait]

Road Ethiopians are unhappy about hosting International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa.

Road Alan Sues, Laugh-In star and pioneering/stereotyping TV gay guy, has died. From the Times:

Mr. Sues tended to perform with over-the-top flamboyance on the show, displaying stereotypically gay mannerisms. What he did not disclose was that he was gay, Mr. Michaud said, fearing that to tell the truth about his sexual orientation would have ended his career.

“It wasn’t because he was ashamed of being gay; it was because he was surviving as a performer,” Mr. Michaud said in a telephone interview, adding that Mr. Sues was actually an inspiration to many gay viewers. “Many gay men came up to him and said how important he was when they were young because he was the only gay man they could see on television,” Mr. Michaud said.

EddieLong Road Bishop Eddie Long's wife seeks a divorce:

In September of 2010, four young men came forward with lawsuits against Eddie Long—a well-known social conservative and Atlanta megachurch pastor—claiming that the bishop had plied them with vacations, cars and money in exchange for sex, starting when they were 16. (The cases were dismissed this spring after Long reached settlements with each of the men.) Yesterday, Vanessa Long filed for divorce, releasing a statement this morning that read "[a]fter a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long."

Road Gay couple accused of molesting adopted sons:

The allegations have caused turmoil within the family and has divided them, with family members forced to choose sides. Harasz’s biological daughter, Jackie, 19, told the media that she strongly believes that the couple is innocent. Chris Harasz, one of the adopted boys, says that all of the allegations are true.

Wirth and Harasz adopted nine boys from three different sibling groups over the past ten years.

Road Sandusky talks. And talks. And talks.

Road Standing On Ceremony to close.

Road Christian's don't like Johnny Depp's Christmas song.

Road Lovely Patty Austin's got a new album out. She talks about it, and AIDS, and all kinds of other things with The Advocate.

Road Yesterday, according to Forbes, "the bomb buried in Obamacare" exploded.  

Road The police stole the Occu-pies:

First there was pepper spray. Then came the batons. But on Thursday night, bad relations between the police and protesters entered a new dimension. While arrested demonstrators sat in their cells at a Lower East side station house, the police, protesters say, stole their pizza and drank all their soda pop.

“NYPD Sadistically Eats Pizzas Meant for World AIDS Day Occupy Wall St. Protesters,” read the headline on the protesters’ news release about the episode.

The police concede that they ate the pizza, but said they thought the pies were intended for them.

“Any way you slice it, it was an honest mistake,” said Paul J. Browne, the head police spokesman.

Road George Packer tells the story of Ray Kachel, and some other folk who found a home at Zucotti. It's a really good read.

Continue reading "NEWS: Bishop Eddie Long's Marital Woes, Ethopia's Inhospitality, Obamacare Is Happening, And A 3D Tour Of An Extraterrestrial Body" »


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