Plans by Ethiopian lawmakers to consider making gay sex a non-pardonable offence have been dropped, while an anti-gay rally scheduled for the end of April has been cancelled, the Associated Press reports.

According to the report, a government spokesperson says that homosexuality is “not a serious crime,” and existing legislation provides adequate punishment.

Same-sex relations are already criminalized in the African country, with offenders facing up to 15 years in prison, while those convicted of infecting another person with HIV through same-sex sexual intercourse could be sentenced to a 25-year prison term.

A youth group with ties to the Ethiopian government and another group linked to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church were planning to stage an anti-gay demonstration April 26.

The groups claim gay sex is not part of Ethiopia’s culture and say the march was a bid to raise awareness about what they characterize as an increase in same-sex sexual activity. The leader of the church group also made the provocative allegation that children are being raped by gay people.

Church group leader Dereje Negash is quoted as saying that he wants additional penalties for gay sex on the books and that God has given him the responsibility to pursue the fight against gay people. He claims the demonstration was cancelled because people within the church asked the government to stop it, AP says.

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