Scroll To Top

Tutu equates
homophobia with apartheid

Tutu equates
homophobia with apartheid

Gay people have become accustomed to attacks from religious leaders, especially those hailing from Africa, so it's heartening to hear that Desmond Tutu has questioned the continent's treatment of gay men and lesbians.

The Nobel Peace laureate and former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, has warned that a hysterical obsession with gay sex leaves African churches in danger of ignoring more pressing issues facing the continent. On a rather more contentious note, he suggested that the mistreatment of lesbian and gay people is akin to apartheid.

"I am deeply, deeply distressed that in the face of the most horrendous problems--we've got poverty, we've got conflict and war, we've got HIV/AIDS--and what do we concentrate on? We concentrate on what you are doing in bed," Tutu told journalists in Nairobi for the World Social Forum last week.

During the forum, an international gathering of human rights and peace workers, gay activists took many Kenyans by surprise when they marched through Nairobi's streets in black T-shirts proclaiming, "We are here, we are queer, and we are proud."

Tutu addressed a taboo that has so far proved socially divisive.

"To penalize someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us--to be penalized for something which we could do nothing [about], our ethnicity, our race," said Tutu. "I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted."

Disputes over the acceptance of gay men and lesbians have threatened to tear apart the worldwide Anglican Communion, with some parishes cutting links with its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, over the issue.

Three days after the end of the World Social Forum, which many Christian groups attended, the Reverend Samuel Njoroge of the Anglican Church in Kenya joined Tutu's voice of reason. He hoped that greater tolerance from Christian leaders might win back gay congregants, who have understandably been leaving in droves.

"We need to reexamine our doctrine on sexual matters," he told Ecumenical News International on Monday. "We have to find how we approach the issue, but not throw them [gays] out. As pastors, we are supposed to minister to the good, bad, and ugly."

Kenyan Muslims were unimpressed by the brave, proud, and loud gay presence at the World Social Forum event.

"The Muslim community is against homosexuality because the vice is ungodly. Both Koran and the Bible condemn the vice," said Sheikh Mohammed Dor, leader of the Islamic Preachers of Kenya.

Kenya, a former British colony, is predominantly Christian, but the Muslim presence is growing fast. Nearly one third of residents are now Muslim, the Kenya Television Network reported in November.

Dor claimed homosexuality should be removed from society as it fuels the spread of HIV. He then urged the state to enforce the law and crack down on Kenyan gays who have requested marriage rights. (Stewart Who?, U.K.)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff