Stepped out of line?

Many of us haven’t heard much about Ms. Zenebu Tadesse, the Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs until her controversial tweets regarding anti-gay laws in Africa.

Well, according to one account, “The Minister has, in her career, significantly contributed to the development of labor and social policies in the country aimed at improving social welfare and the protection of women and children’s rights.”

“A devoted advocate for the betterment of the life of disadvantaged people in Ethiopia, she has been actively engaged in high-level policy making for over 15 years”, the account reads.

Ms. Zenebu got into the limelight when she started tweeting pro-LGBT texts beginning by the end of the last month.

And guess what — those folks, who still think gay people do not exist in Ethiopia, are also present on Twitter with their outmoded mindsets, and Ms. Zenebu wasn’t spared from their ignorant remarks.  This was what she had to tweet back at one of them: “of course we have gays in our country, we are as normal as many other places in the world.”  

999944_825879204105061_2036494554_n (1)

It didn’t take long before tweeps began to ask her whether she’s now officially supporting gay rights.

“I wish to promote love and respect to one another, stop wasting energy with negative thoughts please,” tweeted Zenebu, obviously trying to   keep things calm.

The ever-participating Minister soon found herself immersed in giving explanation to her critics about her stance on the whole matter.  One Twitter user asked Zenebu what her opinion is about homosexuality to which she riposted, “I believe ‘respect’ in this matter should be a guiding principle.”

And then came the infamous tweet this last Monday, perhaps this time it came out as an out of line remark that had upset so many Ethiopians, yet rejoiced gay Ethiopians, who had been following the debate on social media.

1924573_1397282537202040_1284874720_n“There’s no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It’s not the governments’ business to make dress codes or anti-gay laws…”, tweeted Zenebu, condemning the ongoing anti-gay movement in Uganda.

Now, no matter how virtuous and a courageous remark that has sounded, it does not replace the fact that the Minister is in no position to argue the way she did when the administration she works for is not free from the very charges she’s pressing against on others. If anything, the chances of such actions being misinterpreted for a hypocrite is very likely than say, for a courageous or good-hearted activist. This is expected to severely tarnish her reputation and of the government, she represents.

988401_1397510310512596_779139846_n (1)Interestingly, the tweet on the following day seem to indicate that the Minister might have at last been mindful of this blunder, as she attempted to dampen the “gay rights” issue, at least for now. “Yesterday’s tweet,” she wrote, “is not about gay rights, it is against hate and discrimination. We must care for one another. This is our first priority.”

Even though this sounds more agreeable and convincing, it is very clear that the Minister would still have to confront the anti-gay laws in her own country too, if she wants to be taken at her word.  Otherwise, her tweets will not be more than a lip service or worse, it will just be taken as a reckless move for a cheap political score.

1496730_1397646727165621_546282466_n (1)Then it all got even more unsettling with the news of the Twitter account being hacked.  We can never be sure if this is true or not, but if it’s a make-up story then what we can tell is this:  the consequence of the slip-up in that single, seemingly insignificant tweet could cost (or is already costing) the government big time.

It’d not only be an issue of having an official who’s daredevil about a sensitive issue, but it’d equally be about an official whose act was a bit careless and could prove to be a liability to the government, sooner or later.

That’s why how things are unfolding mustn’t surprise us at all.   But one thing is for sure and that is, gay Ethiopians have found their first ever gay-friendly official.. Hooray!


19 thoughts on “Stepped out of line?

  1. The gay issue is not all about gays. Its about basic human right and democracy. As an official she is not expected to agree with every line of law from 1955. As long as she is not trying to change the law in violence, she is entitled to express her view(it seems the writer doesn’t grasped this concept). No she is not a liability, Its like American official in 50s supporting the civil right movement and south African official in 70s criticizing some of Apartheid’s policies, That should be encouraged and any government who accepts pluralism should embrace opinion differences among its officials.
    I am straight but I cheered the Minister for her courageous moves and I will continue to do so, because of the principle of human rights

  2. Officially talked by the minster.For me It is not as such amazing because why the participation of Ms , minister is needed? To build capacity In a foreign country . we are Ethiopian!! we have values and norms!!. currently some ministers and regional governments are sleeping well. they forget there own value!!

  3. May be she stepped out of line…. yes, she forgot that there is no such a thing called “freedom of Speech” in Ethiopia ! I admire her courage and open mindedness in such fire – issues !

  4. Ande chaff yezachehu atbreru please let’s be realistic and lets not try to bring western ideologies in our country such issues are not major in our country and if u cared enough to check the minister was on a field trip where there was no internet connection at the time of the tweets obviously Ethiopia atnorum or kewetachihu koyetachehual she believes in a traditional marriage like most of the Ethiopian population ur America propaganda yezachihu Ethiopia laye atamtu , we are very far from accepting gay rights let alone marraige

  5. May be she did step out of the line and spoke for love and tolerance. She stepped out of the line and protested hate and discrimination. At least she was brave enough to say it, but I cant blame her. she was under lots of pressure, she retracted her statement. Its the sad reality of the lgbt situation in Ethiopia. Even government ministers are scared to speak up against homophobia let alone gay people.

  6. @Edom, your attempt to cover up for the Minister’s bold statement on Twitter failed miserably like the officials who are trying to silence such an open minded woman who have already expressed her opinion in this matter several times before. Said that, nobody is talking about gay rights nor gay marriage in Ethiopia, but we are saying every individual should have the right to live in this planet with full dignity and pride. People shouldn’t be discriminated, prosecuted or silenced because of their race, gender, social status, profession, sexual orientation and etc. Plus, if you think homosexuals are sick then since when has it become fair to prosecute an ill person? Wouldn’t you at least try to cure that person? Lenegeru HIV yeyazewn sew aglelachihu yemtgedlu fetretoch aydelachihu……

  7. የተመሳሳይ ጾታ ግንኙነት (Homosexuality/ግብረሰዶማዊነት) ፈጣሪ ከሚጠላቸውና አጥብቆ ከከለከላቸው ኃጢአቶች ዋንኛው ነው፡፡ ግብረ-ሰዶማዊነት ዓለም በንፍር ውሃ አንድትጠፋ አድርጓል፣ ሰዶምና ገሞራ የተባሉ ሁለት ታላላቅ ከተሞችም አሳት ከሰማይ ወርዶ አንዲያጠፋቸው አድርጓል፡፡ እነሆ የጠፋው ቦታ አሁንም ህያው ምስክር ሆኖ በሙት ባህር አካባቢ ይገኛል፡፡

    አስኪ እናስተውለው፣ ይሄ አስተሳሰብ በብዛት የሚንጸባረቀው የፈጣሪን ህልውና በዘነጉት ህዝቦች ዘንድ አይደለምን? ለምን ቢባል ፈጣሪን አንደፈጣሪነቱ ስላላመኑትና ተፈጠሮአዊ እውነትን በሃሰት ስለለወጡ ነው፡፡ ቃሉ እንዲህ ይላል፡-

    ..ስለዚህ እግዚአብሔር ለሚያስነውር ምኞት አሳልፎ ሰጣቸው፤ ሴቶቻቸውም ለባሕርያቸው የሚገባውን ሥራ ለባሕርያቸው በማይገባው ለወጡ፤ እንዲሁም ወንዶች ደግሞ ለባሕርያቸው የሚገባውን ሴቶችን መገናኘት ትተው እርስ በርሳቸው በፍትወታቸው ተቃጠሉ፤ ወንዶችም በወንዶች ነውር አድርገው በስህተታቸው የሚገባውን ብድራት በራሳቸው ተቀበሉ፡፡ ሮሜ 1÷26-27

    ሰው ክቡር ነው፡፡ በውስጡ የተሰማውን ስሜት በሙሉ ለማስተናገድ የተፈጠረ ባሪያ አይደለም፡፡ በታደለው ነጻ አዕምሮ ነገሮችን በጥልቀት በመመርመር በጎውን ከክፉ የመለየት ኃላፊነት አለበት፡፡ በሰይጣን መንፈስም ይሁን ከስጋ ፈቃዳችን (የምናየውና የምንሰማው ተጨምሮበት) እንዲህ አይነት አንግዳ ስሜት በሃሳባችን ሊመጣ ይችላል…እና ፊት ከሰጠነው ባሮቹ ያረገናል፤ አጥብቀን ከታገልነውና ከራቅነው ደግሞ ይርቅልናል፡፡ ነጥቡ ይኸው ነው፡፡

    አንድ ጊዜ ገብቼበታለሁና መውጣት አልችልም ወይንም በጣም ከባድ ነው ብሎ ተስፋ መቁረጥ አይገባም፡፡ ከልብ ወስነው ከተዉትና ቆርጠው ከተነሱ የማይተው ነገር አይኖርም፡፡ ለዚህ ደግሞ ምስክር የሚሆነው በተለያየ ምክንያት አንዲህ ዓይነቱን ኑሮ ይኖሩ የነበሩ ሰዎች አሁን ሁሉን እርግፍ አድረገው በመተው ትክክለኛ ኑሮ መኖር መቻላቸው ነው፡፡ በገዳም በሚኖሩ አባቶች ጸሎትና ጸበል በመጠመቅ እግዚአብሔርን ደጅ ጠንተው ከእነደዚህ ዓይነቱ መንገድ ያመለጡ መኖራቸውን በዙዎቻችን ያየነውና የሰማነው ነው፡፡

    አነሆ አሳቱም ውሃውም በፊታችን ነው፡፡ ከሁለቱ አንዱን የመምረጥ የእያንዳንዳችን ድርሻ ነው፡፡ የስጋ ፈቃዳችንን/ስሜታችንን/ ትክክለኛ ባልሆነ መንገድ ለማርካትና ቅጽበታዊ ደስታን ለማግኘት ብለን ወደ ገሀነም እሳት /ዘላለማዊ ቅጣት/ ስለምን እንጣላለን?

    እግዚአብሔር ቸር ነው፡፡የእርሱን ፈቃድ ለመፈጸም እስከወሰንን ድረስ ጥሎ አይጥለንም፡፡ ነገ የሚሆነውን አናውቅምና ዛሬውኑ በንስሐ አንመለስ! ፈጣሪ ይርዳን!!!

  8. Happy, really happy?? not sure about that,
    1- if it was natural to be gay, nature would have created lubricants as well, i know what ur argument is going to be ( straight people do it etc, that doesn’t make it healthy or right to take it on as norm)
    2-I know so many gay people who live in the ‘free world’ and its all about sex sex sex, they cant maintain a relationship for more than few weeks and consequently not happy coz human beings naturally want security and trust that develops when you know someone for a long time. only few gay people are capable of that. what? blame straight ppl for that?
    3- why do you want to be like straight people, with the approval with marriage and adopting children?. civil partnership should be enough for tax and inheritance reasons. why do you want children to adopt? thought you would lose that natural instinct to nurture to procreate .
    4-why are there more gay people in certain geographical locations? like Thailand, where it is more liberal to experiment etc, didn’t in it cross your mind that there may have been cultural influence. knowing your own experience is it worth experimenting with your sexuality?
    this is my opinion and it doesn’t mean that I want you dead or put in prison, you have your own sad life.

    about the minister, if you listen to her interview you can tell she is sincere in her saying she didn’t say it. she doesn’t sound like her writing either.

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