Orthodox religious leaders in Ethiopia on Monday called on the government to block a US gay travel company from touring the country’s ancient sites.
The Chicago-based Toto Tours company is Self-described as “the only gay tour company in existence” has been operating with the same ownership and management for almost three decades.
“All religions and their followers must stand together to save this generation. We are asking the government to stop them (travellers with gay travel company) from visiting our historical places, and we are warning those Ethiopians who are cooperating with this evil thing,” said Tiguhan Kesis Tagay Tadele, Secretary general, Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia.
The itinerary of the gay group has sparked controversy in Ethiopia, which like many in Africa is deeply homophobic and has strict anti-gay laws, punishing homosexual acts with up to 15 years in prison.
An influential Ethiopian Orthodox organisation, the Sileste Mihret United Association, also held a press conference on Monday to condemn the tour company.
“We hate homosexuality, they can’t come to Ethiopia and visit Lalibela and other historical places. Because homosexuality is a crime, so if they come here they will be damaged. (sic)” said Dereje Negash, vice chairman, Sileste Mihret United Association.
Twenty-eight out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws penalising same-sex relationships, according to Human Rights Watch.