Under Article 629 of the Criminal Code, both male and female same-seks seksual activity is illegal in Ethiopia. "Whoever performs with another person of the same seks a homoseksual act, or any other indecent act, is punishable...." According to Article 630, the punishment is simple imprisonment for not less than one year, or, in certain grave or other cases, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years. In Ethiopian law, the wording of the penal code treats a homoseksual act as an act of an aggressor against a victim. Consequently, the offense of the aggressor is considered aggravated, when it results in the suicide of the victim for reasons of "shame, distress or despair".
Traditional attitudes around seks and seksuality remain prevalent in Ethiopia, with many Ethiopians holding that homoseksuality is a choice and not innate. Arguments are made[by whom?] of it being an import from the West and that Ethiopian society should not accept it as a legitimate orientation. A 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project found 97% of Ethiopian residents said that homoseksuality should be rejected by society. This was the second-highest percentage among the countries surveyed, exceeded only by Mali.
Dr Seyoum Antoniyos, President of United for Life and influential activist organised a national conference in 2013 attended by politicians and religious leaders. He argues that homoseksuality is the result of a “deep psychological problem”, often caused by abuse or some form of "social crisis”.
In December 2008, nearly a dozen Ethiopian religious figures (including the leader of Ethiopian Muslims and the heads of the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic churches) adopted a resolution against homoseksuality, urging Ethiopian lawmakers to endorse a ban on homoseksual activity in the constitution. This included Ethiopian Catholic Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel.
They also held homoseksuality responsible for the rise in seksual attacks on children and young men. Abune Paulos, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, said, "This is something very strange in Ethiopia, the land of the Bible that condemns this very strongly. For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals. We strongly condemn this behaviour. They (homoseksuals) have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be given a lesson."