LGBTI tour operator, Toto Tours, has decided to cancel their 16-day package tour to Ethiopia that was schedule for this October, amid concerns for the safety of their clients. The tour itinerary was to include visits to several religious sites.
The Ethiopian Orthodox organization, the Sileste Mihret United Association, alluded to violence.
The chairperson said: ‘Homosexuality is hated as well as being illegal in Ethiopia.
‘If Toto Tours comes to Ethiopia where 97% of Ethiopians surveyed oppose homosexuality, they will be damaged. They could even die.’
Toto Tours canceled Ethiopia trip after death threats
Dan Ware, owner of the company, decided to cancel the tour after consideration of the above statement, and also receiving several other threats of violence should the tour proceed.
According to reports from NBC Chicago, Ware explained: ‘We had descriptions of buried alive, burned alive; I had an ISIS-type video with a guy with a mask on his head, brandishing his sword saying we are going to cut your throat. It was not something to ignore.’
Spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Ethiopia, Amanda Jacobsen, stated: ‘Our country specific information for Ethiopia notes the challenges American citizen LGBTI travelers to Ethiopia may face, including the fact that consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.
‘There is no law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTI persons.
‘Ethiopians do not generally identify themselves as LGBTI due to severe societal stigma.’
Tour company still planning trips to countries where being gay is illegal
Ware stated that he hopes to one day still plan a tour to Ethiopia.
However, in the meantime, he’s refunding all clients who were booked on the October departure.
Toto Tours has been serving the LGBT community since 1990.
Their website states the name is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘all-inclusive,’ not in reference to Dorothy’s infamous dog from the Wizard of Oz. The company website still has trips planned to Botswana, Bhutan, and Egypt, all places where same-sex activity is illegal.