Planned anti-gay rally in Ethiopia is cancelled; gov't says gay crimes not a big problem

Officials say that plans for an anti-gay rally in Ethiopia's capital have been cancelled.

Two groups had been planning to hold a large anti-gay rally in Addis Ababa on April 26. But Dereje Negash, chairman of a religious group affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said the cancellation came after people inside the church asked the government to prevent the rally.

Several African countries, notably Uganda and Nigeria, have increased penalties against gay acts recently. Same sex acts in Ethiopia are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman, said Wednesday that the government does not support anti-gay movements that have been building. He said plans to add gay sex to a list of crimes ineligible for a presidential pardon have been dropped.