ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Lawmakers in Ethiopia are expected to pass into law a bill that would make same-sex acts a non-pardonable offense.
Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers last week endorsed the measure that would amend the country’s Pardon and Amnesty Law that lists homosexuality along other offenses as a non-pardonable.
According to local sources, a vote will be called upon bill in parliament as early as next week, and normally bills endorsed by the Council are passed.
The bill aims to curb the president’s power to pardon prisoners who committed certain “crimes,” including those imprisoned for homosexuality acts. Other offenses included in the list are corruption, human-trafficking, smuggling, rape and terrorism.
Ethiopia’s Minister of State Getachew Bedane urged a quick vote.
“The decision to include homosexuality in this bill is simply pure ignorance on the part of the government,” said one Ethiopian gay rights activist and blogger. “The rest of the world is decriminalizing homosexuality … because it is now being realized that sexual orientation is a basic human right too. It’s deeply troubling to see Ethiopia opting out of this global consciousness.”
In Ethiopia, same-sex acts are illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Collectively, the laws create a dangerous environment for LGBT Ethiopians to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Ethiopia has already very harsh anti-LGBT laws, including a 25 year imprisonment for anyone infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts,” said a spokesperson for the advocacy group Rainbow Ethiopia, who could not be identified for fear of his family’s safety.