GAY TOUR GROUP BANNED

Ethiopian church wants US gay tour group banned

Selestu Me'et made the call for a ban at a press conference in the capital, Addis Ababa.

In Summary

• The trip to Ethiopia is advertised as an "historical and cultural journey".

• The organisation, Selestu Me'et, told BBC Amharic that the tourists should not be allowed to come as homosexuality is a crime in the country.

Toto Tours is planning to visit the famous churches in Lalibela, which are carved out of rock
Toto Tours is planning to visit the famous churches in Lalibela, which are carved out of rock

The head of a US-based gay travel firm has warned that "there will be consequences" if anyone on its planned tour of Ethiopia is harmed.

Dan Ware's comments to BBC Amharic come after an organisation affiliated to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church called on the government to ban the trip scheduled for October.

The organisation, Selestu Me'et, told BBC Amharic 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.

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", it says on its website.

The trip to Ethiopia is advertised as an "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," he 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".

"We are afraid, and we will be making the US State Department aware of what’s happening to us and there will consequences if we are harmed."