Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Uganda Law Provoked Ethiopian Discussion

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, passed an anti-gay bill into law on February 24, 2012. As the news broke, twitter went into hot discussion among people who support and reject the President’s decision. Ethiopians also took part in the discussion. Ethiopia, a country itself criminalized ‘homosexuality acts’ in its penal code for many decades, has a large community who blindly rejects the discussions on topics of sexuality let alone legalizing it.

Many of the tweets were reflected after Ethiopian Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Zenebu Tadesse, who broke the silence tweeting:

There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It's not Governments' business to make dress code or anti-gay laws. #Uganda.
Many applauded her tweet; however, a few questioned whether the tweet is her opinion or her government’s position. Eyob A. Balcha asked:

Your Excellency, what's your government’s position on same sex-relation? As far as I know, it's illegal in Ethiopia.
Rediet suggested the minister to use ‘views are my own’ tag, if her tweets don’t reflect her government’s stance:
Should we take this tweet as your opinion or the government office you are representing? If not, best to use 'views are my own' tag.
Aklilu H. Wold said it is not morally right to advocate this while being a minister of women and children:
Being a minister of women and children, [it’s] not morally right to advocate against anti-gay law. How about in Ethiopia?
The minister replied today:
Yesterday's tweet is not about gay rights, it is against hate and discrimination. We must care for one another. That is our first priority.
Beyo Te advised the minister to “focus on ‘women’ and learn how to resist this [west] ‘imposition’ by listening to the speech of Museveni” for which the minister replied that they “fight sexual exploitation rather than orientation”:
What so ever... Do you know how to resist such impositions? Have you listened to Museveni speech? Work on Women!!!
Maedi tried to challenge the minister with series of questions:
Nobody spoke about hate, madam minister; being pro-criminalization does not mean we hate the people. If the act is wrong something has to be done about it. It’s as simple as that. [It] has nothing to do with discrimination or hate.
Zelalem Kibret replied to Maedi:

Why are you pro-criminalization, though? You have to oppose legalization. But, advocating for criminalization is too far.
Maedi challenged him back:
Law will only be enforced if there are consequences. That’s what differentiates it from moral values. Even if it’s not legal, what’s to keep people from going ahead and doing it, anyways, if there is no law prohibiting it?
Zelalem replied:
Because, they love each other. Legalizing certain types of love is one thing, but, criminalizing it is to the extreme. By the way, what is your reason to opt to criminalize certain types of love that you are not part of? You are enjoying your sexual orientation and you want to prohibit others because they do not love what you love?
Maedi said:
Can you honestly tell me there is a difference between not legalizing it and allowing it? Let’s be realistic here.
If it is not legal their relationship will not have a legal effect at all. No registration. No Communal property.
Other tweeps have also reflected their opinions on the matter independently. Abel Wabella wished to see the ‘reaction of western world if the rights of homosexuality were promoted and initiated by non-westerners originally’; a tweep named itself Happy Addis took the minister’s tweet for granted that ‘Ethiopia won’t go Uganda’s way’; ቀበርቾ said she was ‘reading about Denmark’s rule about animals to be stoned before being slaughtered. (Some countries gone far to protect animals too.); But, my favorite one being still the one tweeted by the minister:

There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa.
There is always a way we should figure out to live and let live in harmony regardless of our differences.

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