Legendary anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged his fellow Anglicans to focus on the problems facing Africa and stop obsessing over gay issues.
Dr Tutu told a conference in Nairobi that the God he worships does not consider the position of homosexual clergy to be more important that AIDS.
The former Archbishop of Cape Town is attending the World Social Forum in Kenya.
After decades of eloquent resistance to the apartheid system in South Africa, Tutu led the newly democratic nation’s Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
“I am deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on ‘what do I do in bed with whom,’” he told a news conference in Nairobi.
The Anglican church in South Africa is the only one on the continent that has a liberal attitude towards women priests.
Most African churches are implacably opposed to gay or lesbian clergy and regard homosexuality as biblically forbidden.
Dr Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, told journalists that gay hate was the same as racism.
“For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race.
“I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted.”
His comments come in the week that is has been reported that Nigeria, the continents most populous state, is set to pass new laws prohibiting almost any public demonstration of homosexuality.