Desmond Tutu Decries Horrific State of Affairs of Gays & Lesbians
A step backward on human rights in Africa
Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu decries the horrific state of affairs for Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in Africa. Tutu, an anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient believes this horrific state of affairs in Africa to be a step backward on human rights and sexual orientation, like skin color, is another example of the diversity of the human family.
"No one chooses to be gay," he notes. "Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark - or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?"
A wave of hate and fear is spreading across Africa. All told, 38 out of 53 countries in Africa have laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Men have been charged and imprisoned in Senegal and Malawi, and attacked in Kenya because they were suspected of being gay. Blasted by human rights groups, Uganda's parliament is debating anti-homosexuality legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.
Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.
And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.
"But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?
Politicians profit and the wave of hate must stop
The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.
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