Issues with relying on the US State Department for a accurate take on LGBT life in particular countries have been highlighted in the reporting of Daniel Berhane, the self described 'leading blog in Ethiopia.
He has found a leaked Cable (here's the cable) from US Embassy Addis Ababa, dated Dec. 30,2009. It claims that:
The Cable notes that Ethiopia is a conservative society and homosexual conduct is punishable under Ethiopian law. It adds:
- Post [the Embassy] is not aware of any cases of homosexual conduct that have been prosecuted in recent years or any pending cases for homosexual acts between adults.
- In the past year, post received limited reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals; however, reporting may have been scarce due to fears of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatization. The anecdotal reports post is aware of come from credible sources and include forced marriages and rapes of LGBT individuals.
- [social events of LGBTs] have been forced to relocate, sometimes on short notice, because of real or perceived threats to the establishments where they are held. However, no arrests or harassment have been reported linked to these social events.
- As in other countries, urban residents and young people are likely to be more tolerant of homosexual behavior when compared to their rural and elder counterparts, but even among this group conservative views dominate.
The US State Departments Human Rights Report on Ethiopia from the same period (2010) in the section on LGBT issues now required in these reports doesn't mention any "thriving LGBT social scene" but says the following:
But Rainbow Ethiopia LGBT/MSM reported that the 'United for life' religious coalition was actually calling for the death penalty for gays.
They said that the local media was engaged in "open psychological homophobic war to agitate the general society" against LGBT.
"At any time," the group wrote, "we may face public attack at any place, we don't have either a legal ground or organizational capacity to respond to this defamation, intimidation,
"Generally, to accomplish all the projects into fruition, we need the support of international humanitarians in the form of financial, technical, material."
He said that: "The mere concept of the LGBTI community as a minority of any kind is non-existent in Ethiopia." Amharic dictionaries do not even include a word for 'gay' and:
"Systematic and divisive repression seems to have taken root planting immense fear among society at large. Civil societies are continually monitored and intimidated while almost every form of media government controlled. This does not allow for much of a human rights movement in Ethiopia."The UN Human Rights Committee in its list of recommendations to Ethiopia last July, stated its opposition to criminalisation, adding that: