Metro Weekly

TikTok Hatemongers Harass LGBTQ Ethiopians

Ethiopia's LGBTQ community confronts a new wave of harassment because of several hateful users on TikTok.

Ethiopian Flag – Photo: Aboodi Vesakaran, Unsplash

In recent weeks, TikToks calling for queer people to be whipped, stabbed, and killed have gone viral in Ethiopia. 

TikTok hate mongers are outing LGBTQ people by posting their names, photographs, and online profiles.

The top comment from one such video says “Let’s kill them, give us their address.”

“TikTok is being used to incite violence,” Bahiru Shewaye, co-founder of the Ethiopian LGBTQ rights group House of Guramayle, told the Associated Press

TikTok has removed some of these videos but is largely leaving them untouched. 

Some LGBTQ Ethiopians say the new wave “of abusive content has left them feeling unsafe, with several fleeing abroad in recent weeks,” the Associated Press reported. One nonbinary person said they are now in Kenya after “they were attacked by a group of men in Addis Ababa” last month.

An LGBTQ student in Addis Ababa, the state capital, said he has been outed twice on TikTok. He was badly beaten at a restaurant by a group of classmates. They fractured his cheek after the first video outing him was released. 

“I [didn’t] feel safe at school after that, so I stopped going,” he told the Associated Press. 

After the video was removed, another video outing him soon surfaced. The second video appeared in late July and has attracted over 275,000 views. It is a collage of individual and group photographs under the banner “Homosexuals live freely in Ethiopia.” 

“This was a vulnerable group in the first place,” Bahiru said. “But the new scale of these calls for violence, it has grown out of control.”

The catalyst for the increased videos is unclear, but Bahiru said Uganda’s new anti-LGBTQ law that mandates the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” plays a role.

The Ethiopian government seems to support these TikToks tacitly. The Addis Ababa Peace and Security Administration Bureau released a statement saying it was taking action “against institutions where homosexual acts are carried out.”

Security forces in Ethiopia shut down several bars, hotels, and restaurants in Addis Ababa “where gay sexual activity is alleged to take place” Reuters wrote.

“If there is any sympathy for those who commit and execute this abominable act that is hated by man and God, (the bureau) will continue to take action,” the city administration wrote in a Facebook post.

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