Arcbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu refuses to worship a God that does not acknowledge gay rights.
“I cannot worship a homophobic God,” Tutu told journalists at the launch of a new global anti-homophobia campaign by the United Nations.
“I wouldn’t even go to a homophobic heaven. In such a case I would say: ‘Sorry! Let’s rather go to the other place.’”
The Free & Equal campaign – which aims to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality around the world – was launched at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town today.
The event was hosted by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, with speeches by Tutu and openly gay SA Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.
Cameron described the project, the first of its kind, as a “huge breakthrough”.
Said Tutu: “This campaign is making me want to jump for joy. In this country, we’ve had so many children who have been made to feel uncomfortable in their own skins. You don’t choose your race, your gender, or your sexuality.
“For goodness’ sake, homosexual people are not a peculiar breed, they are human beings.
“We will be less human if we deny their humanity.”
Tutu’s strong words follow in the wake of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s latest homophobic onslaught this week. Speaking at a pre-election rally in Mutare, Mugabe claimed that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs”.
Pillay highlighted the importance of leaders in shaping tolerance. “We desperately need the voices of leaders like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu. We also need media and a push from civil society.”
She said they picked South Africa for the launch of the campaign because of concerns over anti-gay violence in the country.
In 2011, the UN published its first official report on violence and discrimination against LGBT people. It found that 76 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships, with widespread homophombia and anti-gay violence in others.
The campaign hopes to educate people on LGBT rights through videos and social media messages that will be distributed over the next year.
Celebrities who have pledged their support and who are helping to distribute material include SA singer Yvonne Chaka-Chaka and Puerto Rican popstar Ricky Martin.
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