Desmond Tutu, the archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, penned a poignant op-ed Wednesday calling on Uganda's members of parliament to stand up for the oppressed and reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would prescribe long-term imprisonment and even death for some LGBT people. The bill has been positioned at the top of Parliament's list of "business to follow" for several weeks, and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told reporters in November that she wants the bill passed as a "Christmas present" to Ugandans who are "demanding it."
The Rev. Tutu, who rose to sociopolitical prominence fighting to end the racial segregation of apartheid in South Africa, implored Ugandan leaders and laypeople to turn away from the hateful legislation.
"One thing that Ugandan legislators should know is that God does not discriminate among members of our family," writes Tutu. "God does not say black is better than white, or tall is better than short, or football players are better than basketball players, or Christians are better than Muslims… Or gay is better than straight. No. God says love one another; love your neighbor. God is for freedom, equality, and love."
In the editorial published in Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor, Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, compared Uganda's so-called Kill The Gays bill to South Africa's apartheid and the mass extermination of Jewish people under the Nazi party.
"It is with supreme sorrow that I witness, to this day, the subjugation and repression of African brother and sisters whose only crime is the practice of love," writes Tutu. "Hate, in any form or shape, has no place in the house of God."
Tutu also challenges the notion that LGBTI Africans are a product of Western influence, pointing out that "LGBTI Africans have lived peacefully and productively beside us throughout history."