June 5, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia is in international spotlight once again over a planned tour by a gay group to see some historical and religious sites in Ethiopia.
The tour in question was organized by a Chicago-based firm named Toto Tours. The company describes itself on its website as "the only gay tour company in existence" that has been operating with the same ownership and management for almost three decades.
According to reports from AFP, the company says it has received death threats since announcing the 16-day trip to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, like many African countries, is one of the most conservative societies in the world when it comes to issues such as homosexuality. The country has strict anti-gay laws, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The planned tour has been opposed by numerous groups, including several religious leaders who are urging the government to cancel the trip. Some have warned that the safety of the visiting group cannot be guaranteed.
"Tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government and we urge Ethiopians supporting these sinful and evil acts to desist from their acts," said Tagay Tadele of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, which has seven Islamic and Christian denominations as members.
According to AFP report, Dan Ware, the president of Toto Tours, said the company had been "terribly misunderstood."
"Our company is not aimed at spreading values contrary to local cultures." "We are simply an organization where like-minded people can travel comfortably together to experience the world's most precious wonders," he added.
So far, the Ethiopian government has not commented one way or the other. It is also unknown whether the tour will proceed as planned against so much opposition.