Tutu sup­ports UN gay cam­paign

Global ed­u­ca­tion to boost LGBT equal­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WENDYL MARTIN

ARCH­BISHOP Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu, pledg­ing his sup­port for a new UN global ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign for les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der equal­ity, has de­clared he will not wor­ship a ho­mo­pho­bic God.

Tutu is among a group of celebri­ties who have thrown their weight be­hind the Free & Equal Cam­paign, launched yes­ter­day at the Clock Tower at the V&A Wa­ter­front, which in­cludes pop star Ricky Martin, singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Bol­ly­wood ac­tress Celina Jaitly.

Yes­ter­day Tutu said he 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 said, adding “we have to build a so­ci­ety that is ac­cept­ing”.

It was not a free so­ci­ety, Tutu said, “un­til ev­ery sin­gle per­son knows they are ac­knowl­edged and ac­cepted for who they are”.

Free & Equal is the UN’s first global pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign in­tended to tackle ho­mo­pho­bia and trans­pho­bia.

Tutu said that peo­ple were killed be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. “How would I keep quiet? “It is as un­just as racism was... This God cre­ated them ( LGBT peo­ple). Each one is pre­cious. They are hu­man. They be­come judges. They are not a pe­cu­liar breed. I pray this cam­paign is as suc­cess­ful as it deserves to be,” he said.

The year-long cam­paign was an­nounced yes­ter­day by UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights Navi Pil­lay, who was joined by Tutu and Jus­tice Ed­win Cameron of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

The cam­paign is a fol­low-up to a UN re­port, from De­cem­ber 2011, that doc­u­mented wide­spread hu­man rights abuses.

Pil­lay said: “My of­fice at the United Na­tions reg­u­larly re­ceives re­ports of in­di­vid­u­als who have been at­tacked, sex­u­ally as­saulted, kid­napped, tor­tured, even mur­dered, sim­ply be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity... In over a third of the world’s coun­tries, con­sen­sual, same-sex con­duct re­mains a crim­i­nal of­fence.”

Free & Equal was launched with a pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ment ti­tled The Rid­dle.

“Over the com­ing year, we will be re­leas­ing a va­ri­ety of creative con­tent – in­clud­ing videos, ar­ti­cles, maps and other graph­ics – all in­tended to dis­pel neg­a­tive stereo­types and en­cour­age more in­formed dis­cus­sion,” Pil­lay said.

Plans in­clude a se­ries of films in­ter­view­ing fam­ily mem­bers of LGBT peo­ple from around the world.

She added that the ma­te­rial would be made avail­able on the cam­paign’s web­site, UNFE.org, and was de­signed for easy shar­ing on so­cial me­dia.

Jus­tice Cameron was equally sup­port­ive of the cam­paign.

In 2011 he made head­lines when a let­ter he wrote to Spud pro­ducer Ross Gar­land ap­peared on the Con­sti­tu­tion­ally Speak­ing blog. He re­ferred to “ca­sual den­i­gra­tion of gays... that oc­ca­sion­ally spike up in the movie”.

At Free & Equal’s launch yes­ter­day he said: “I am a judge of the high­est court and I am a ho­mo­sex­ual man... I am a proudly and openly gay man.”

The big­gest foe of LGBT equal­ity, he charged, was “in­vis­i­bil­ity and si­lence”. “We look like ev­ery­one else. “My hope for this cam­paign is that the UN prom­ises of freedom and equal­ity are also promised to the LGBT com­mu­nity... My coun­try is a bea­con of con­sti­tu­tional equal­ity. In prac­tice, we have a long way to go... By deny­ing our hu­man­ity, you are deny­ing your own.”

Al­though the cam­paign is global and not tar­geted at South Africa specif­i­cally, Pil­lay said that while South Africa had “some of the best laws in the world, when it comes to pro­tect­ing the rights of gay and les­bian peo­ple”, some of the worst cases of ho­mo­pho­bic vi­o­lence were recorded here.

“Peo­ple are lit­er­ally pay­ing for their love with their lives,” she said.

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

ARCH SUP­PORT: Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu, cen­tre, pledges his sup­port for the UN’s new anti-ho­mo­pho­bia cam­paign Free & Equal. He is flanked by Jus­tice Ed­win Cameron of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, left, and UN Hu­man Rights High Com­mis­sioner Navi Pil­lay.

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