The leaders of the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches have called on the government of Ethiopia for a constitutional ban on homosexuality.

At present the constitution makes no mention of homosexuality.

Male homosexual behaviour is illegal and carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. Although there is no provision under Ethiopian law for lesbianism there is the presumption that the punishment would be the same.

“For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals,” an Orthodox leader told journalists after the meeting.

“We strongly condemn this behaviour, they have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be taught a lesson.”

Christians make up around 63% of the country’s population with of them 43% Ethiopian Orthodox. Muslims make up almost 34%.

According Sonic Casuist of ETHIOGLBTI, a gay rights group in Ethiopia, homosexuality is still perceived as taboo and nonexistent in that country and many homosexuals are still in the closet.

“It is hidden, no one is out. The general population would like to claim that it does not exist,” she told mask.org.za.

“For those of us who live here we make and build our communities. We get together and we have places to go in the evenings however nothing is out in the open, it’s a hidden community.”