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Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, warned African churches against focusing too much on homosexuality while ignoring major issues, reports the Episcopal News Service.
"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, Kenya, during the World Social Forum.
Tutu went on to compare discrimination against gays to what black people suffered under South Africa's apartheid. "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, according to the Associated Press. "I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted."
The worldwide Anglican Communion has been divided by the issue of homosexuality, with some dioceses cutting links with the U.S. Episcopal Church. But three days after the close of the WSF, the Reverend Samuel Njoroge of the Anglican Church in Kenya expressed hope that tolerance shown by Christian leaders could woo back gay and lesbian parishioners.
"We need to reexamine our doctrine on sexual matters," Tutu told Ecumenical News International on January 29. "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."
Sheikh Mohammed Dor, leader of the Islamic Preachers of Kenya, took a different position, demanding that the government crack down on gays. "The Muslim community is against homosexuality because the vice is ungodly. Both the Quran and the Bible condemn it," Dor told Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper on January 28. (The Advocate)