Ethiopian LGBT activist sees Facebook account blocked

19:04 Jul 11 2015 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

An Ethiopian LGBT activist and leader who runs multiple Facebook groups for gay Ethiopians has had his account blocked by Facebook for not using his real name.

The activist, who goes by the pseudonym HappyAddis, used the social network to create and administrate some of the most popular groups for gay Ethiopians, including Zega Matters, which has more than 1,000 members. The East African country considers homosexuality a crime and those convicted of same-sex relations can face 15 years in prison. For that reason, many LGBT citizens use an alias to interact with others online in order to avoid punishment from the authorities and anti-gay violence.

On Friday morning, HappyAddis discovered his account had been blocked due to a Facebook policy that requires users to go by their real names on the site. The activist says he was told to upload documents confirming his pseudonym was his legal name or he would not be able to use the site. It appears as though anti-gay Facebook users may have reported HappyAddis’s account as a false name in order to make Facebook take it offline.
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