Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday said he does not support a homophobic God.
“I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I'd say sorry. I mean, I'd much rather go to that other place,” he told reporters in Cape Town.
“We have to build a society that is accepting and it is not a free society until every single person knows they are acknowledged and accepted for who they are.”
He was speaking at the launch of the United Nations “Free & Equal” global campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in Cape Town.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about homophobic violence and discrimination. Tutu said many people felt they could not be comfortable in their skin because of potential ridicule.
It could simply not be a choice to follow that lifestyle knowing the great prejudice and potential violence that lay in wait, he said. He was aware that many religious leaders promoted the idea that it was a sin to be anything but heterosexual.
“There is deep anguish for many of us that they can imagine that God would create someone and put them there and say 'I hate you. I hate you for who I made you to be'.”
Tutu said South Africa should reject discrimination against sexual orientation, as it had done with racism.
“Can you imagine me having said it's unjust to penalise something they cannot do anything about, their race or gender, and then to keep quiet when people are hounded, people are killed, because of their sexual orientation?” he asked.
“I think it's as utterly unjust as racism ever was.”
Tutu said non-heterosexuals were often described as being a “particular breed”.
“They are not a peculiar breed. That is precisely what we are saying, that they are human beings. I don't know why we are so surprised. They have gifts, they can become judges. They can become all sorts of wonderful things.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the campaign's success would be measured by how many countries chose to decriminalise LGBT preferences and the measures they put in place to offer protection to individuals.
“Government holds the primary responsibility for protecting people. It's government who can take action... but nothing happens unless there is a push from civil society,” she said. - Sapa