Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ethiopia to pass anti-gay bill

(Mar 25, 2104, (SBS ))--Ethiopia is set to pass a bill that puts homosexuality on a list of offences considered "non-pardonable" under the country's amnesty law, a measure that continues a trend of anti-gay legislation across Africa. The bill, endorsed last week by Ethiopia's cabinet, is widely expected to pass when MPs put it to a vote next week.

Homosexuality is criminalised in 38 African countries, about 70 per cent of the continent, according to Amnesty International. Uganda and Nigeria have recently strengthened criminal penalties against homosexuals. In Ethiopia, same-sex acts are illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 25-year jail term is also prescribed for anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

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

Tiruneh Zena, the head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, said a presidential pardon was a privilege and not a right, the reason be believes the bill is not harmful to the lives of homosexuals. Read more from SBS »

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