Retired Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu rejects violence against gays and lesbians. He spoke at the launch of the ‘Free and Equal’ campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Cape Town on Friday. The ‘Free and Equal’ initiative is an international campaign which highlights, among other equally important issues, the plight of gays and lesbians in townships around South Africa. Homosexual people are harassed, raped and in a lot of cases, even murdered because of their sexual orientation.
Speaking about homophobia, Tutu said: “I think it’s as utterly unjust as racism ever was.” His dedication to this campaign is immense as he feels strongly against homophobic violence and discrimination of any kind. As far as Tutu is concerned, sexual orientation is something that people are born with, like race. “We speak of them and say: No, they are a peculiar breed. They are not a peculiar breed. That is precisely what we are saying, that they are human beings.”
A recent story which shocked the country and angered the gay and lesbian community was the brutal rape and senseless death of 26 year-old Duduzile Zozo. According to the Mail and Guardian, no less than 31 lesbian women have been killed in homophobic violence in South Africa since 2003. A report by charity organizations in the Cape Town area puts the number of lesbian rape victims at around 10 per week.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu challenged religious leaders to be more involved in initiatives that encourage equality for people who differ by gender, race and sexual orientation in particular. In a passionate plea, he asked the public to be more tolerant. “The Anglican Church in Southern Africa has tendered to be more open but even here it’s very tough.”
The world would be a much safer place for gays and lesbians if more people shared Tutu’s enthusiasm for the ‘Free and Equal’ global campaign. Tutu was adamant: “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.”