Ethiopia church calls for ban of gay tour group

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An organization affiliated to the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Selestu Me’et, has called on the government to ban a scheduled trip by a group of US gay tourists in October.

The organisation, said that the tourists should not be allowed to come as homosexuality is a crime in the country. It was especially concerned that they would visit sacred sites such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

Selestu Me’et also made the call for a ban at a press conference in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.

Meanwhile, the head of the US-based gay travel firm, Dan Ware, has warned that “there will be consequences” if anyone on its planned tour of Ethiopia is harmed.

Mr Ware’s company, Toto Tours, is “dedicated to creating exciting travel opportunities that enable our community to explore the wonders of the world in comfort and safety”.

The trip to Ethiopia is advertised as a “historical and cultural journey”.

“I’m very sad that they feel threatened. I feel that any believers if they are truly confirmed in their faith have nothing to fear from people who don’t share their same beliefs and there is no reason to be afraid of our coming there,” Ware said.

“I appeal to the ministry of tourism in Ethiopia to be careful of this situation. The eyes of the world will be on us when we come and whatever is done to us will reflect tremendously on its tourism industry.”

Mr Ware says that Ethiopians objecting to the tour are planning to “stake out the places we’re going”.

He said they are afraid and will be making the US State Department aware of what’s happening to them and that there will consequences if they are harmed.

Bbc/Nneka Ukachukwu