Archbishop Tutu 'would not worship a homophobic God'

Desmond Tutu (26 July 2013) Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared homophobia to racism

Related Stories

South Africa's Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he will never worship a "homophobic God" and will rather go to hell.

The retired archbishop was speaking at the launch of a UN-backed campaign in South Africa to promote gay rights.

Despite same-sex relationships being legal in South Africa, it had some of the worst cases of homophobic violence, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

Archbishop Tutu, 81, is a long-standing campaigner for gay rights.

'Toilet brush attack'

He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, but has remained the moral conscience of the nation, correspondents say.

Start Quote

I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid”

End Quote Desmond Tutu South African cleric

Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than a third of countries around the world and punishable by death in five, Ms Pillay said.

In Africa, homosexual acts are still a crime in 38 countries, according to the rights group Amnesty International.

"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," Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town.

"I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."

Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa.

"I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level," he added.

Ms Pillay said gay and lesbian people in South Africa had some of the best legal safeguards since apartheid ended in 1994, but they still faced brutal attacks.

Last month, a lesbian was found dead, having been sexually assaulted with a toilet brush.

"People are literally paying for their love with their lives," she said, AFP news agency reports.

The UN would push for gay rights to be recognised in countries where they are illegal, Ms Pillay said.

"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.

Archbishop Tutu won the Nobel peace prize in 1984 for campaigning against white minority rule in South Africa.

Map showing gay rights in Africa

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Abandoned stadiumShow's over...

    ...but what happens next? BBC Culture takes a look at what happens to abandoned stadiums

Programmes

  • A woman sits on a bed in a scene from Gustav Deutsch's latest film about Edward Hopper's paintingsTalking Movies Watch

    How film-maker Gustav Deutsch brought Edward Hopper’s paintings to life

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.