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Ethiopia Cracks Down on 'Homosexual Acts' in Capital

Map of Ethiopia, showing the capital, Addis Ababa

NAIROBI — Authorities in the Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, have announced a crackdown on same-sex activity in hotels and bars and called on people to report the "abominable" acts to police.

The Addis Ababa Peace and Security Administration Bureau said it was taking measures "against hotels, restaurants, guest houses and other entertainment venues suspected of involvement in homosexual acts."

It said in a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday that it had already raided a guest house in Addis Ababa following a tipoff and its manager had been arrested.

The government body "will continue to crack down on such abominable acts, which are despised by God and man, in cooperation with the police," it said, urging people with information about same-sex activity to report it to the authorities.

Gay sex is illegal for both men and women in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, and some offenses can carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

LGBTQ activist group The House of Guramayle said there had been an escalation in attacks against people in Ethiopia "based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity."

"Individuals suspected of belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community are being physically attacked in Ethiopia," it said in a statement issued on Monday, accusing users on social media platform TikTok of fueling the violence.

“TikTok is being used to incite violence,” said Bahiru Shewaye, co-founder of House of Guramayle.

TikTok did not respond to requests for comment.

The AP on Thursday reviewed several videos that appeared to violate TikTok’s community guidelines by inciting violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In one video posted on Aug. 5, a popular evangelical Christian pastor calls for gay people to be stripped naked and publicly whipped, which he said would deter LGBTQIA+ members from the country. The pastor's account has over 250,000 followers.

In another video posted Aug. 2, a TikTok user calls for gay men to be stabbed in the buttocks. In a third, posted in the past week, a young man says, “We should find them and kill them,” before making a stomping gesture with his foot.

A 2022 U.S. State Department report on the rights situation in Ethiopia said there had been no reports of people being incarcerated or prosecuted for engaging in consensual same-sex sexual conduct.

It said while there were reports of violence against LGBTQI+ people, there were no hate crime laws or other judicial mechanisms for the investigation of abuses against members of the community.

Information for this report came from AFP and The Associated Press.