Target: Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Goal: Commend Bishop Tutu for his support of LGBT rights and denounciation of homophobia
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has a long history of fighting for the rights of others, especially the oppressed and marginalized. The first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, Bishop Tutu was one of the leading figures in the end of Apartheid in South Africa. He has since advocated for reconciliation and economic justice in South Africa, and for peace and human rights across the world. Most recently, Bishop Tutu, long a supporter of LGBT rights, made a particularly powerful statement saying that he would prefer Hell over an anti-gay Heaven and comparing the discrimination suffered by LGBT peoples to the racial discrimination under South Africa’s Apartheid regime:
“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…I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”
Archbishop Tutu’s remarks are part of a long history of support for gay rights and opposition to legal discrimination based on sexual orientation. He previously compared homophobia to Apartheid in his 2004 book “Sex, Love and Homophobia,” where he called homophobia “a crime against humanity” and stated his belief that since sexual orientation is no more under one’s control than one’s race, people shouldn’t use it as a basis to judge the moral worth of others.
Regarded by many as the conscience of South Africa, Bishop Tutu’s statements will have a great impact. Many parts of Africa are hostile to LGBT individuals, with some nations criminalizing same-sex relations. Even in South Africa, where marriage equality is the law, violence against queer individuals is rampant. As in much of the world, this antipathy stems in large part from religious condemnation of homosexuality. The denunciation of homophobia by a religious and civil rights leader of Bishop Tutu’s stature will inspire others to follow in his footsteps, and hopefully lead to a change of heart across Africa. Bishop Tutu deserves commendation for his courageous words.
I would like to thank you for your work in the furtherance of human rights, and particularly for your recent statement of support for LGBT rights. Your words were powerful, and it is my hope that they will lead to a changing of hearts and minds.
While the news has been filled of late with happy news for our LGBT brothers and sisters–the passage of marriage equality in France and Britain, and the overturn of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the United States–much progress remains to be made as you surely know, and in many places such as Russia, life is getting worse for queer peoples.
Your remarks comparing homophobia and the legal and social inequality of LGBT peoples were not only true, but especially powerful coming from a faith leader, civil rights activist, and opponent of Apartheid such as yourself. It is the sincerest hope of all supporters of the basic rights and fundamental dignity of human beings that your words and works will lead to the opening of hearts and minds, and lead to a world where all people will be welcome and respected. Thank you once more.
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