Archbishop Desmond Tutu received a standing ovation when he spoke out in support of gay clergy at the Church of Scotland General Assembly yesterday.

The Anglican leader and former anti-apartheid campaigner called on church members to welcome all, regardless of their sexuality.

According to the Herald, he said: “When we were suffering with apartheid in South Africa, how wonderful it was to almost luxuriate in the tremendous support of we received from others in other parts of the world. People were arrested on our behalf.

“You here in Edinburgh were quite outstanding in that support.

“Ours is a God who is notoriously biased in favour of the poor, the hungry, the downtrodden, those who smell to high heaven, begging in our streets, whop sleep rough, prostitutes, drug addicts, those who are at the edges of our society.

“In this family there are no outsiders. All, all, are insiders. All are children of our heavenly father: the rich, the poor, the lame, the blind, the clever, the not so clever, the white, the black, the red, the yellow.

“All, all, all. The Palestinians, the Israelis, Al Quaeda, Bin Laden, George Bush. I will draw all into this embrace of love. All.

“Lesbians, gays, so called straights. All, all, all. We are family. We are sister and brothers.”

He added: “How in the name of everything that is good can we justify going on spending obscene amounts on budgets of death and destruction, when we know that just a minute fraction of those so-called defence budgets would ensure that God’s children everywhere, our sisters and brothers, would have clean water to drink, enough food to eat and have a decent home, affordable healthcare.

“How can it be that we representing this God can look on when there are those who go to bed hungry, and can spend only one dollar a day?”

Archbishop Tutu has previously castigated his church for obsessing over gay issues while poverty, disease and hunger are ravaging the human race.

In September, he accused his church of “persecuting the already persecuted” in its attitude to gay people.

Last weekend, the General Assembly voted to approve the appointment of Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister.

However, it then imposed a two-year ban on all new appointments of gay ministers.