(, which means "citizen" in Amharic, is a code word for gay).
"Many in the community are doubting that he is gay in the first place because he is just like this ghost that knows everything about the community," Happy says.
"he watches you but you can't see him."It's not a good sign if one of the most dedicated LGBT activists in Ethiopia's history is so shadowy that his allies can't track him down. S.-based activists like Mercy and Happy are afraid to divulge their real names or get into details about their work.
Consider what happened to 26-year-old Robel Hailu, universally adored by other Zegas because he's one of the only "out" gay Ethiopians still in Africa.
A man named Solomon Negussie posted a comment wondering "what I can do as an Engineer to eradicate these people (I mean gays and lesbians) from Ethiopia or generally from the face of earth next to praying to God to give me the wisdom to produce a machine or virus that will kill or make them straight (like normal people!
)"The video was produced by the Gedame Tekle Haymanot Bible Association, based in Washington, D. Ethiopia is a deeply religious country - the majority of its citizens are Orthodox Christian, then Muslim - but many church leaders are increasingly progressive when it comes to social issues like family planning.
This time, they take us through the stunning beauty changes of Ethiopia over the past century.
Given that a volunteer who, say, dares to hand out lubricant to gay men could face imprisonment and jeopardize his or her groups' larger-scale work, organizations have decided it's not worth the risk. State Department "delivers this message" is by copying and pasting the same two paragraphs year after year in its Ethiopian Human Rights Report, which briefly notes "some reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals" while acknowledging that "reporting was limited due to fear of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatization." Most Ethiopians insist that homosexuality is a Western disease, says Mercy, a 28-year-old LGBT activist who fled to Washington, D. "I felt like such a dirty person for having those feelings."Leaders of Ethiopian Muslims, heads of the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic churches, government officials, members of the Ethiopian Parliament, leaders of political parties, and youth organizations routinely put their differences aside to attend conferences on the "gay problem" - one last year, entitled "Homosexuality and Its Associated Social Disastrous Consequences," was held in the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Prominent international financing organizations like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has convinced repressive governments to devote funds to educating and treating MSM (men who have sex with men), have had no luck in Ethiopia, which refuses to fund or even permit any MSM-targeted HIV prevention, treatment or care programming. supports LGBT rights "and frequently delivers this message in public statements and private meetings with government officials," but would not go into details. "Ethiopians do not need their identity to be dictated for them from outside no matter how wealthy or powerful the forces applying the pressure," Abune Paulos, the former head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, told conference goers last year. In May 2013, United for Life Ethiopia hosted a workshop during which police told government officials, religious leaders and health professionals that "homosexual family members and neighbors" were likely to sexually abuse children.
Gay Ethiopians silently watched their friends and family post Facebook statuses about their plans to burn the host hotel to the ground. A week later, Mercy - the lone gay Ethiopian willing to out himself that weekend - was detained and told to lay off the activism by police who said they'd been following him for years. C., where, he believes, the Ethiopian government is still monitoring him. He's had a rough time attracting attention in Ethiopia, too.
Instead, he attended another AIDS conference in Washington, D. Mercy regularly updates Rainbow Ethiopia's website and Facebook group and says his goal is to "spread news of what it's really like to be gay in Ethiopia" - but it's hard to get U. Mercy is an "ambiguous character," says Happy, who moderates two popular gay Facebook groups: Ethiopia Gay Library, which tracks media coverage, and Zega Matters, a forum on which more than 700 people discuss LGBT issues.