Desmond Tutu Prefers ‘Hell’ to Homophobic ‘Heaven’
The man widely regarded as ‘the moral conscience of South Africa’ says he would rather go to ‘hell’ than to a ‘homophobic heaven.’
BBC reports Desmond Tutu, the 81-year-old former Catholic archbishop of South Africa and a hero of his nation’s struggle against apartheid, was speaking at the Cape Town launch of the Free and Equal campaign, a United Nations-backed LGBT rights initiative.
According to the UN, Free and Equal “will focus on the need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia.”
“I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in combatting apartheid, declared. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”
Tutu compared the the campaign against homophobia to the anti-apartheid struggle.
“I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level,” he said.
South Africa is the continent’s best country for LGBT individuals– it is the only African nation where same-sex marriage is legal, while homosexual relationships remain illegal in 38 of the continent’s 54 countries. But even in this relatively enlightened bastion, LGBT residents face many obstacles and dangers. Lesbians, for example, are often victims of ‘corrective rape,’ and just last month Duduzile Zozo, a 26-year-old lesbian from Ekurhuleni, was raped to death with a toilet brush.
“The government must open a dialogue with cultural and religious leaders of this country about LGBT rights, so that the incitement to hate that motivates such crimes, is stopped,” Junior Equality Mayema of People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) organization told Gay Star News in the wake of the Zozo murder.
“I am disappointed why US president Barack Obama didn’t raise the topic of LGBT rights during his visit to South Africa; perhaps he is not well informed of what is happening here,” he added. “Religion, customs and culture are rife with homophobia which also plagues the police. All these issues must be addressed before more people die from such heinous hate crimes that plague South Africa.”
“People are literally paying for their love with their lives,” UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said of South Africa. “I constantly hear governments tell me, ‘but this is our culture, our tradition and we can’t change it’… So we have lots of work to do,” she added.
In addition to being a longtime advocate for LGBT rights, Tutu is also an outspoken champion for social justice and human rights around the world. He has earned widespread praise– and, in some circles, scorn– for his condemnation of what he calls Israel’s apartheid policies and actions against the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.
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