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Desmond Tutu: Anti-gay laws ‘as wrong as apartheid’

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  1. Fantastic comments! I’d quote my favourite one but they’re all so brilliant I can’t choose one to highlight. Great man!

  2. Desmond Tutu is a true and living saint, a real hero. He is a man who “gets” equality, who “gets” humanity and who understands what persecution is – so recognises it when he sees it – and is not afraid to challenge it. He will expose it wherever it is shown – including within the church that he belongs to.

    Tutu preached an eloquent and important sermon at Southwark Cathedral in 2004, when he said:

    “A student once asked me, If I could have one wish granted to reverse an injustice, what would it be? I had to ask for two. One is for world leaders to forgive the debts of developing nations which hold them in such thrall. The other is for the world to end the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation, which is every bit as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid.

    This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we

    1. could do nothing about — our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.
      I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights. For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.

      It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender

    2. people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.

      Churches say that the expression of love in a heterosexual monogamous relationship includes the physical — the touching, embracing, kissing, the genital act; the totality of our love makes each of us grow to become increasingly godlike and compassionate. If this is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reasons have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual?
      The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority. I myself could not have opposed the injustice of penalizing people for something about which they could do nothing — their race — and then have kept quiet as women were being penalized for something they could do nothing about — their gender; hence my support for the ordination of

    3. women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

      Equally, I cannot keep quiet while people are being penalized for something about which they can do nothing — their sexuality. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.”

      A truly wonderful man who wholeheartedly supports humanity and recognises evil within the church.

  3. A speech that Tutu gave to LGBT Christians that speaks evocatively of his beliefs in true and meaningful equality and his distress at the homophobia the church can often exhibit:

    “Thank you so very much. I wanted to pay a very warm tribute to yourselves, because you are such wonderful human beings. Frequently hounded, the butts of offensive jokes, discriminated against, vilified, molested, and even killed, as targets of homophobia. Most of you still manage to remain extraordinary human beings, compassionate, caring, self-sacrificing, refusing to be embittered, and quite extraordinarily gifted in so many, many ways. I know at close quarters, in a way, because two of my chaplains when I was incumbent Archbishop were gay. They now hold senior positions in our church. Thank you for being such wonderful human beings, and for your part in trying to help make our world a better place.

    The prophet Jeremiah, some of you might recall, remonstrated with God on one occasion and said, “I didn’t

    1. want to be a prophet. And most of the time that I have been prophet, you have made me utter words of condemnation and doom on a people, my people whom I love so very dearly. And when I say, ‘No, I am not going to speak on your behalf, God, because you do this to me,’ your word becomes like a fire in my breast,” meaning that the imperative to speak against injustice and evil in his society was one that he could not avoid. I have wished many times that I could, I would shut up. And of course, there would be many who would have been relieved. Though we can say that I do have the freedom to speak or not to speak, in many ways, that is really only notional. I could just as well try not to breathe. So it isn’t anything for which you want to commend me. I cannot but be as God has made me. And so I have spoken against the injustice of apartheid, racism, where people were penalized for something about which they could do nothing, their ethnicity. And so also, when women were penalized for their

    2. gender, I couldn’t, even if I had tried, keep quiet. And so I supported the ordination of women as priests and bishops.

      I therefore could not keep quiet, it was impossible, when people were hounded for something they did not choose, their sexual orientation. How sad, how tragic, that our church, the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church should, at the present time, be so obsessed with this particular issue of human sexuality, at a time when God’s children all over are facing massive, massive problems: poverty, disease, corruption, conflict. And I, for myself, imagine our Lord, who died for the world, not for the church, I imagine Jesus weeping. That at a time when people are hungry, people are dying often of preventable disease, when people are desperate, the church, the church of God, should be engaging in this particular matter.

      And for what it is worth, my dear sisters and brothers, I ask for your forgiveness in the way in which we, the institutional church, have often

    3. ostracized you, made you feel as if God had made a mistake creating you as who you are. For we are those who are meant to care for one another, care for God’s world, care for God’s children, especially those who suffer injustice and oppression.

      And you have been fantastic people in your commitment to justice and freedom, and the respect for human rights, here and in other parts of the world. On behalf of those who are the beneficiaries of your support and your commitment, thank you. Thank you. ”

      A man of great candour, morals and humanity. A true servant of humanity.

  4. He is a very brave man. Eloquent and powerful.

    How sad that it takes direct experience of discrimination to be able to understand it. If others could conceptualise the harm that is done rather than need to suffer it to realise how wrong it was, the world would be a better place.

    I am sure that there are plenty who would resist his words – it is convenient for then to hate us and they NEED it to something they can blame.

    1. Absolutely, his words are honest, heart felt and it clearly hurts him that humanity commit such oppressive and callous acts of hurt and (at times) savagery (often in the name of His God).

      Tutu famously said that if his God was homophobic, then he would not worship him!

      There are those who are so confused by their indoctrination and their own aspirations that they neglects others and seek to oppress. Tutu recognises the evil in this and the harm that is done.

      Tutu is a man of real, solid understanding and principles.

  5. These are my favourite words by Tutu:

    “No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.

    It is time to stand up against another wrong.

    Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely

    1. charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

      Uganda’s parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

      These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

      Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

      And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially

    2. Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said “Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.” Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

      “But they are sinners,” I can hear the preachers and politicians say. “They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished.” My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The

    3. brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?

      The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.

      There are not enough superlatives to effectively express with any passion or eloquence the compassion and humanity that is Desmond Tutu.

  6. Robert in S. Kensington 20 Jul 2012, 11:50am

    Bless you and thank you, Archbishop Tutu, a truly genuine Christian in every sense of the word. Sadly, his ardent support and love for LGBT people will fall on deaf ears among the majority of the Anglican hierarchy. He was the first senior Anglican cleric to declare support for equal marriage in his own country and probably instrumental in bringing it to fruition. He puts bigots Willians and Sentamu to shame. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he sent a message of support to the equal marriage campaign in the UK.

  7. I’m so glad that a man who is so well respected internationally has spoken out like this. The fact he’s both religious and African gives his comments more weight, I think, as these are two groups who are still resistant to gay equality.

    Well done, Desmond, and a great big thank you from me!

  8. Cardinal Capone 20 Jul 2012, 12:44pm

    Mr. Cameron, please please please persuade this man to come out of retirement and become the next Archbishop of Canterbury!!

  9. What a truly wonderful man Tutu is, a religious leader one could really look up to and one who, as Stu says above, really ‘gets’ equality.

    It’s such a shame he’s virtually unique in this respect, but you never know, we can hope his example may inspire others.

  10. James As Well 20 Jul 2012, 1:26pm

    I reject religion but this man’s comments are so moving and inspirational.

  11. NutjobsareeverywheretheUNtoo 20 Jul 2012, 1:32pm

    Love ya Archie!!

  12. Robert in S. Kensington 20 Jul 2012, 1:45pm

    Meanwhile, bigot Cardinal O’Brien is striking back at the SNP for opposing a referendum saying that allowing equal marriage threatens freedom of belief and expression. What a dumb-arse!

    1. That doesn’t even make any sense! Cardinal O’Bigot is getting more and more desperate because even he knows he’s fighting a lost cause!

      1. “…he knows he’s fighting a lost cause!”

        Agreed!

        And he should know seeing that he is a member of one…

  13. One of the living saints of our day is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He once said, “Those who say that politics and religion should not mix do not read the same Bible as I do.‟ Speaking of apartheid, Tutu said that black people were often perplexed that many of those who treated them so abominably were not heathen but “claimed to be fellow Christians who read the same Bible‟ as they did. Tutu said:
    The Bible they and we both read is quite categorical – what endows human beings, every single human being without exception, with infinite
    worth is not this or that biological or any other external attribute. No, it
    is the fact that each one of us has been created in the image of God. This is something intrinsic. It comes as it were with the package. It means that each one of us is a God-carrier, God‟s viceroy, God‟s representative. This is why treating anybody as if they were less than this is veritably blasphemous. It is like spitting in the face of God…..The Bible turned
    out to be the most

    1. subversive book imaginable in a situation of injustice and oppression. Speaking in Edinburgh in 2009 to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Tutu said “Thus says the LORD, „We are family. I, if I be lifted up, will draw not some, will draw all, incredibly, revolutionary, radical, radical, radical assertion, draw all, all into one embrace and not let us go. In this family, there are no outsiders; all are insiders: rich, poor, lame, blind, clever, not so clever, white, black, red, yellow, Palestinian, Israeli, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, George Bush, all in this embrace, all, all, all, all, all, all…lesbian, gay, so-called straight, all. We are family. We are sisters and brothers.”

      Tutu makes it clear that homophobia is as bad as the racial apartheid he suffered under and that churches and church leaders sponsoring and encouraging such apartheid are balsphemous. In my view this must include the likes of Sentamu, O’Brien and their ilk.

  14. More should look at this man to see the real definition of a Christian.

    1. Amen to that!!! ;-)

  15. There are so many powerful, evocative and honest comments that Tutu has given which challenge – my favourite is:

    “We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins … It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.

    I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights. For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of

    1. is a matter of justice.

      It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.

      Churches say that the expression of love in a heterosexual monogamous relationship includes the physical — the touching, embracing, kissing, the genital act; the totality of our love makes each of us grow to become increasingly godlike and compassionate. If this is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reasons have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual?

      The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority. I myself could not have opposed the

    2. injustice of penalizing people for something about which they could do nothing — their race — and then have kept quiet as women were being penalized for something they could do nothing about — their gender; hence my support for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

      Equally, I cannot keep quiet while people are being penalized for something about which they can do nothing — their sexuality. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.”

      What a fantastic man. Sentamu, O’Brien and Williams could learn a lot from him. They choose not to. They choose to seek to deny justice to LGBT people because of how they were born. They choose to discriminate unjustly. They choose to fail to love their neighbour. They choose to persecute others on the basis of their orientation. They

    3. choose to blame others for what they are. They choose to vilify and persecute others. They choose to act in a blasphemous manner.

      Tutu condemns what they do and the choices they make – and rightly so.

      O’Brien, Sentamu and Williams are blinded by their ignorance and failures to love to see the truth and integrity of Tutu’s honest and humane approach to people.

  16. That There Other David 20 Jul 2012, 2:18pm

    Tutu is such a wonderful guy. An absolute legend who will still be revered generations down the line. He led his country to peace and freedom, and still he stands up and calls for love and respect. A real force of nature and a true hero.

  17. Jesus Moran 20 Jul 2012, 2:23pm

    This article really made my day , what a great 4 years anniversary present with my fiancé as well, Desmond Tutu you are a true man, a true hero and a true Christian God bless you!!!!

  18. Funny how easy it is to tell when someone is being genuine and sincere in their support. Too often we read apologies that fall flat (“I’m sorry you interpreted my comments as offensive”) or clarifications that succeed only in blaming the victims (“if the lesbians weren’t so flagrant they would not have been killed”).

    Tutu shows that when you sincerely believe in love and equality, there is no confusion in your language and nobody can misunderstand or misquote you. He is the epitome of what a “religious” person should be.

    Tx&GBless.

  19. Keith Godfrey 20 Jul 2012, 3:01pm

    Why can’t all so called “Church Leaders” have the courage as Desmond Tutu to stand up for LGBT, to preach love amongst us all. I was taught at a young age that God is a God of Love not a God of Hate!

  20. Demond Tutu is a true inspiration to all :)

  21. I had the honor and privilege of meeting Bishop Tutu about seven years ago. I’ve also worked with his daughter Mpho on various human/civil rights causes here in America and abroad. I can honestly say that there is a different air that surrounds this saintly man. When he walks into a room, the air, the mood, the energy and the emotion immediately change. He is an amazing human being and a saint if there ever was one.

    1. Hayden

      Bishop Tutu Isn’t a saint I am sorry to inform you. He cannot be such when he disagrees with the God he claims to worship

  22. Garry Cassell 20 Jul 2012, 4:43pm

    My HOPE is that some of the Africian leaders will pay attention to this special man, Desmond Tutu, and learn from him and hopefully change their attitudes about sexuality..and most importantly change the laws that so many countries are trying to impose on people because of their sexuality..something they have no control over..May God continue to Bless Archbishop Tutu…

  23. Peter Piper 20 Jul 2012, 5:48pm

    Will someone ensure that the leaders of the catholic church and the arch of Canterbury read this great man`s statement

  24. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality to aid the fight against HIV,
    ——

    While homosexuality should not be illegal, it is odd for Tutu to suggest that decriminalisation would help the fight against HIV.

    In Western Nations – where homosexuality is (obviously) not illegal – approx two thirds of all new cases of HIV occur among gay men alone.

  25. What a fantastic man, the only person i have any love for in the church. if only more like him would come forward, and to those that have thank you.

  26. WantsToKnow 20 Jul 2012, 7:30pm

    I love Archbishop Tutu! Why can’t HE be pope? THAT would be a great improvement…

    1. Because he’s nopt catholic – but maybe we could get him nominated as Archbishop of Cantebury!

  27. Har Davids 20 Jul 2012, 9:02pm

    If I actually believed in saints, Desmond would be my favourite one.

  28. Gemma Gillon 20 Jul 2012, 9:07pm

    Well done Archbishop :)

  29. Staircase2 20 Jul 2012, 9:14pm

    I love Desmond Tutu
    …amazing man, amazing soul and amazing insight…

    …’amazing grace’

    God Bless Dr Tutu!

  30. A thoroughly decent chap. Three cheers.

  31. A few years ago I had the pleasure of spending a day with Archbishop Tutu. Everything that people have written here about this great man is true in my opinion. And he has a wickedly scandalous sense of humour and fun.

  32. Archbishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela are the only true statesmen this world will ever admire.

    Two of the greatest men alive.

    When these men speak the world should listen and act.

  33. GingerlyColors 21 Jul 2012, 7:07am

    As South Africa’s leading churchman, not only can Desmond Tutu teach the likes of Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe a lesson or two in tolerance, he can also show that religion doesn’t have to be homophobic. Having been persecuted himself because of his skin-colour, he knows better not to become the oppressor. All to often the bullied became the bully but Archbishop Tutu has risen above that.

  34. GingerlyColors 21 Jul 2012, 7:11am

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu is perhaps the greatest man to have walked the African continent. Even in the post Apartheid era Tutu continues to speak up for the oppressed peoples of the world.

  35. I wish more religious leaders had the wisdom and tolerance that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has exhibited in his continued denunciation of the anti-gay elements within the Anglican Communion. While aimed at the knuckle dragging Neanderthal element within the Anglican Communion, the condemnation equally applies to anti-gay religious bigots across the board.

    Responsible and humane Christians have long believed that if one accepts the Gospel message, treating others with love, feeding the hungry, assisting the poor and the sick and other acts of mercy and charity are the highest callings of faith. Instead, bigots like Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria (a country surely is in need of immense efforts to fight rampant poverty and disease) are obsessed with persecuting gays. It’s nice to know that Desmond Tutu is of a like mind.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused his church of “persecuting the already persecuted” in its attitude to gay people. “We seem to be engaging in this kind of,

    1. almost, pastime [while] there’s poverty, hunger, disease, corruption. “I must imagine that God is weeping, and the world quite rightly should dismiss the Church in those cases as being totally irrelevant.”

      Archbishop Tutu, a 76-year-old veteran of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, has repeatedly said the church should come together on the topic of homosexuality. He has said “How sad it is that the Church should be so obsessed with this particular issue of human sexuality when God’s children are facing massive problems; poverty, disease, corruption, conflict.”.

      Tutu is a man who regards belief in humanity as being truth – and not just a truth to be said or “believed” (as many so called Christians seem to give lip service to) but a one which is to be lived and taken into every human attitude. He understands that equality is not real if it excludes some because of how they are born. He understands apartheid is not over in this

    2. world – it has simply changed it’s focus. He is a man of honour, the utmost integrity and humanity. He is a friend of LGBT people and all humanity.

  36. If only every religious figure was as tolerant, compassionate and truly Christian as Archbishop Tutu the world would be a much better place. He is an inspiration. So eloquent, so loving, so humane. I can’t say how much I admire this man.

  37. I enjoyed this very much as Mr.Tutu is one of the few religious people that I don’t consider totally insane.
    I,however,have a list with e-mail addresses of a large number of bigots who also admire Tutu.
    Today they get this e-mail from me.
    Myles.

  38. Thank you very much Archbishop Tutu. Let us hope and pray that the world listens to you and acts on your words.

  39. Helge Vladimir Tiller 21 Jul 2012, 9:10pm

    Very good, D. Tutu- but remember: Homophobia has its real and decisive origin from Religion, be it Islam or Christianity.

    1. Not so. Organised religion crystallised attitudes that already existed due to tribalism and the herd instinct.

    2. What Catholicism and most other modern Christian churches vigorously deny is just how much homosexuality was not only tolerated, but practiced by many of its founding fathers, and the degree of toleration, if not veneration, it received. Afrocentrics often deny that homosexuality was a feature of African cultures in ancient times. And more than a few anglicized Native Americans would be shocked to learn that homosexuals were not only common among their tribal ancestors, but were even venerated as being spiritually gifted.

      Homosexualty and bisexuality, we now know from modern research, is ubiquitous throughout the world. It exists in all cultures, and has at all times in history. A relic of our evolutionary history, homosexuality and bisexuality is very commonly practiced in nearly every culture, whether tolerated or not. The only difference is the openness with which it is practiced.

      Another thing we know from modern research is that some degree of bisexuality, in the absence of

      1. cultural taboos, is not only extremely common in men, but is probably the rule! “Homosexuality of convenience” which occurs in the absence of available female partners (such as is commonly seen in prisons, for example) is widespread even in cultures that frown on homosexuality. Most men, at some time in their lives, experience homoerotic feelings towards other men – whether they choose to admit it or not. The percentage of men who have had a homoerotic experience to orgasm in amazingly high even in America. By the age of 49, fully 60% of American men have had such an experience, according to research by Masters and Johnson. We not only know that homosexual experience was ubiquitous, but that it tended to follow certain general patterns, nuanced by local traditions, taboos and prejudices.

        In modern cultures, a myth has been spread, mostly by homophobic religious groups, that homosexuality is primarily a modern phenomenon, that it is a chosen orientation, and it is a symptom of moral

      2. decline.
        Such a notion runs counter to what we know of homosexuality, and what we know of its history and its biological origins. We now know, for example, that most men in ancient Greece and Rome engaged in at least occasional homosexual contact, and a not insignificant number of the marriages consummated in both civilizations were homosexual. We know that homosexuality, though not known by that name, was not only tolerated, but even celebrated in the arts, theater and in cultural activities. The ancients did not view gender as a determining factor of who should love or be married to who; the qualifications related solely to matters of age and biological relationship.

        Indeed a vast corpus of literature has been left us by the ancients, which celebrates same-sex relationships, and which in many cases is homoerotic. Much of the literature of “straight society” also makes clear, in a variety of ways, that homosexual relationships were widely acknowledged, not considered immoral or

      3. “sinful,” but rather were considered a normal part of life. In many “primitive” societies, such as those studied in Africa and the Pacific Islands, the patterns seen are often the same as those seen in ancient Greece and Rome.

        Our knowledge of homosexuality in prehistoric African cultures is limited by the late-Middle Age European views of Africans, of homosexuality, and of course, the European reason for being in sub-Saharan Africa in the first place – the slave trade. Among the earliest references to it are some of the records of the Inquisition in Brazil. From the Denunciations of Bahia, (1591-1593) comes this thoroughly racist reference to it:

        “Francisco Manicongo, a cobbler’s apprentice known among the slaves as a sodomite for ‘performing the duties of a female’ and for ‘refusing to wear the men’s clothes which the master gave him.’ Francisco’s accuser added that in Angola and the Congo in which he had wandered much and of which he had much experience, it is customary among

      4. the pagan negros to wear a loincloth with the ends in front which leaves an opening in the rear… this custom being adopted by the sodomitic negros who serve as passive women in the abominable sin. These passives are called jimbandaa in the language of Angola and the Congo, which means passive sodomite. The accuser claimed to have seen Francisco Manicongo “wearing a loincloth such as passive sodomites wear in his land of the Congo and immediately rebuked him.” (quoted by J. Treveisan, Perverts in Paradise, London, 1986. Elipses are his.)

        We can see from such references, that homosexuality was present in Africa from at least the earliest of European contact, and without much doubt, from long before. It wasn’t just central Africa, either. While European proprieties made such graphic description of African homosexualities uncommon in their descriptions of Africa, there are enough references to it to know that it was indeed present, and even used as a justification for considering

      5. African cultures primitive enough to justify slavery.

        Among the last African cultures to be subjugated by Europeans, the Hausa peoples of northern Nigeria and the surrounding countries offer interesting examples of homosexuality among Islmaicized peoples of Africa. Conquered by the British only in 1904, they were studied extensively by British ethnographers within a decade and a half of the arrival of the British – having experienced very limited contact with Europeans in the meantime. These ethnographers included sexual practices, including homosexuality, in their survey. Thus, they give us a unique glimpse into a nearly pristine African Islamic culture.

        When English and French-Canadian fur trappers first grew acquainted with the cultures of the Native Americans among whom they found themselves, they were surprised to find that there were significant numbers of men dressed as women among the tribes of the region. What intrigued them the most, however, was the esteem with which these

      6. men were held by their fellow tribesmen. These men were considered to be spiritually gifted, a special gift to the tribe by God, men with a particular insight into spiritual matters. As they were encountered in most tribes, the trappers chose a French word to describe them all: “berdache.”

        The term “Two Spirit” has been proposed as a replacement, but I find that it too is lacking, in that there is no universal agreement on its meanings, some of which are also perjorative. Yet what it does convey is a sense that these people have a special gift – being in two worlds at once, the normal material world, but also an sensitivity to a special gift of the spirit that only people like themselves can experience.

        A myth commonly held in conservative Christian religious groups is that Greece and Rome fell when their acceptance of homosexuality arose, and that the resulting “immorality” was a primary cause of their fall.

        The reality is quite different. Neither Greek nor Roman cultures began

      7. their decline with an increased tolerance of homosexuality; rather it was quite the opposite.

        Much has been written of pederastry among the Greeks, but the reality is that while common among the military occupations, the familiar forms that homosexuality takes among Americans was the rule among the Greeks and Romans as well.

        The fact is that the concept of gender was very, very different among the Greeks and Romans. The notion that a person was “male” or “female” in gender as well as sex is one that had not currency among these ancients. They recongnized, as we often do not, that a person may well not see themselves as “macho” or “feminine,” but rather a combination of the traits.

        As a result, it did not seem at all unusual among the ancients for two men or two women to get together and form a family unit. Marriage between members of the same sex was common, accepted, and not considered different or unusual at all, because gender was not identified strictly with sex as it is among

        1. it did not seem at all unusual among the ancients for two men or two women to get together and form a family unit. Marriage between members of the same sex was common, accepted, and not considered different or unusual at all

          That, especially in relation to two women, is not what I’ve ever heard. What is your authority for that statement, Elaine?

          1. I’m not sure why I’ve been thumbs-downed for this post: I’d love to know if there is an authoritative source for the claim that same-sex marriage was ‘common’, especially if it was so with regard to women – it’s contrary to everything I’ve ever read on the subject.

      8. modern Europeans and Americans.

        Therefore, the idea of seeing two men hugging, kissing and showing great affection, even passion for each other in public is a notion that would not have stirred any more interest among the ancients that such behavior between members of the opposite sex would for us.

        It is not surprising, then, that the ancient Greeks and Romans have left us a rich heritage of literature celebrating such relationships. Stories are legion of the deep passion and love such couples had for each other.

        While some authors have attempted to show that homosexuality was prosecuted in ancient Rome, the fact is that no surviving account of prosecution for a homosexual relationship, prior to the Christian era, survives. Those examples that purport to show such prosecutions, on close examination show that the victim was a minor – and the prosecution is for pedophilia, not for homosexuality. Indeed, there are plenty of examples of prosecution for adultery, and many for pedophilia

        1. the ancient Greeks and Romans have left us a rich heritage of literature celebrating such relationships

          What ‘rich heritage’ of same-sex relationships?

          1. I don’t know why I’ve got thumbs-down for this question either. If anyone can guide me to this rich heritage of literature, I’d appreciate it. Apart from Plato’s Symposium there’s very little I know about.

      9. but not a single case for homosexuality.

        Cicero, one of the greatest of Roman jurists, speaks endlessly of Roman law, including in detail those statutes dealing with sexual relations, but nowhere does he mention homosexuality. Cicero ridicules many prominent citizens for having been male prostitutes during their youth, but nowhere does he indicate that it was illegal, and in one case, in defending one Cnaeus Plancius from the charge that he had taken a male lover into the country to have sex with him, he states categorically that “this is not a crime.”

        In Augustinian Rome, not only was male prostitution allowed, but it was even taxed. A Roman historian of the era, Martial, not only mentions many prominent citizens and their male lovers by name, but admits to having engaged in such activities himself, and comments on it without the least evidence of shame.

        While the general theory that tolerance of homosexuality increased as Rome began its decline, the fact is that the opposite is

      10. true. During the period of the Roman republic, when Rome was genuinely governed by the Senate, there was far greater tolerance of homosexuality, with the result that it was generally ignored in official documents. Because persecution began under the empire, more and more official references to it began to appear in legal documents, hence the belief by some historians, that it became more common. When one examines civil, secular documents, however, one sees that the opposite trend is the case.

        The reality is that there is no evidence whatever that during the republican era, up through the beginning of the empire, for any recognition in Roman law for any difference between homosexual or heterosexual sex, or for that matter, even marriage.

        That all began to change, however, with the “conversion” of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity.

        The early church fathers, particularly those who founded the monastic orders, often looked to “nature” for examples of morality and immorality. This

      11. rather risky business was fraught with difficulties, not the least of which was the fact that nature itself was very poorly understood during this period of history. Nature was considered inherently beautiful and moral, even though almost any activity of man considered to be immoral can be shown to be engaged in by animals. This inconvenient fact was simply ignored by the ancients, or they were not aware of it. The exceptions were animals that the ancients considered to be revolting or disgusting for whatever reason, or were believed to engage in bizarre behaviors.
        For example, it was believed during this time that hyenas were fond of digging up graves and eating the corpses. It was also believed that hares grew a new anal opening every year, and that weasels mated through the mouth and bore their young through the ear.

        Because hyenas were considered a rather disgusting animal, and the fact that they were believed to engage in homosexual sex predominantly, homosexuality itself began

      12. to be considered to be disgusting by them through their association with the animals the ancients considered disgusting.

        These unfounded stereotypes were perpetuated in books called “Bestiaries” that purported to describe the natural history of the animals that were familiar to the ancients. Two of the most famous of these were the “Bestiary of Barnabus” and the “Historia Animalium.” Both perpetuated many stereotypes about animals, including those listed above.

        Because homosexuality became associated with hyenas, an animal believed to rob graves and eat the corpses, it’s not surprising that early church fathers and monastics held homosexuality itself to be repugnant since it was associated with such repugnant animals.

        Thus began a campaign against homosexuality by certain church fathers, among them Augustine (a rather nasty piece of work himself, the first known zealous advocate of forced conversions), and Clement, a man who mistakenly associated homosexuality with a form of child

      13. slavery in which male children were often sold into slavery as prostitutes. These two men and others like them began to associate homosexuality not just with unsavory animal practices, but with other practices they didn’t happen to like, such as paganism, or pederastry, etc.

        The man who took this ball and ran with it was “Saint” John Chrysostom, who was the first church father who can clearly be shown to object to homosexuality based on the gender of its participants, not based just on procreative intent, or based on the ages of those involved, or whether the participants were pagans. Yet his theology was so thoroughly inconsistent that he did not have much direct influence on subsequent theology.

        While the theology of homosexuality of these men was insistent, it wasn’t to become influential for a long time. The reason is simple – homosexuality was so common in this period, and practiced so openly, that the public at large regarded these doctrines as a bit extreme, just like the

      14. call to celibacy outside of strictly procreative sex as was advocated by many of these same church fathers.

        The dawn of the 12th century brought with it an increasing fascination on order and uniformity. There was increasing involvement by the church in the affairs of state, and vice versa, combined with a longing for the “good old days” of what the late Middle Age peoples believed the Roman Empire to have been.
        To see that the lawlessness of the countryside and the order of the old Roman Empire was restored, both church and state began cooperation with each other to strengthen each other’s institutions. Increasingly, the line between church and state was blurred. This increasing emphasis on order and uniformity brought with it an explosion in the amount of legislation of all sorts. It was inevitable, then, that with the involvement of the church, sexual mores would find increased regulation as the result of the tide of regulation.

        Of course, this led to all kinds of repression. The

      15. first to feel the repression were the Jews and Muslims of Europe, who found themselves living in a land that was increasingly hostile to their presence. While regulations were often intended to protect the minorities from popular uprisings against them, they often had the opposite effect, in laying down regulations on behavior that were intended to address the popular grievances against them. These regulations came to include “sodomites” and other sexual minorities, but because the laws regulated behavior, they often became the source of repression, more than protection.

        Sexual minorities were particular targets, as the pressure to conform increased. Social critics began to single out gay people for special persecution. Peter Cantor (d. 1197) was the first to argue that Romans 1:26-27 referred specifically to gay people. The term “sodomy” came, for the first time and against all theological precedent, to refer exclusively to homosexual sex.

        At Cantor’s urging, the Lateran III

      16. Every think of getting a blog there Elaine? That way you can waffle on and we can choose not to go to your site.

    3. It should be obvious by now that homophobia has its origins in ignorance. It is spread by ignorance, by repression, social conservatism and the alliance of church and state. It is self-evident that education leads to an understanding of the truth and that truth itself leads to freedom.
      The history of homophobia in western culture is instructive. It tells us how, when we make untested assumptions, we can easily be led into error that can be very destructive, as homophobia has been. It shows us that the path to liberation isn’t through religious indoctrination but through reason and logic.

  40. Helge Vladimir Tiller 23 Jul 2012, 5:57am

    The MAIN CAUSE of homophobia in our Civilization is found in Leviticus 20:13. No doubt !

    1. Somewhat of an overstatement, I think you’ll find.

      1. Helge Vladimir Tiller 24 Jul 2012, 9:17am

        No-not at all ! If you study what Christianity has done to gay and lesbian people through History- you will be surprised. And remember how widespread these antiquated “doctrines” have been for several hundreds of years. Even today there are religious groups which refer to this “fascistic” nonsense.

        1. There’s no doubting the effects of organised religion on homosexuality in history; however, it’s a little simplistic to imagine all homophobia stems from what was written in Leviticus. I hesitate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but I think you’ll find Hitler’s decisions concerning gay people were not underpinned by religious ideology; nor were Stalin’s, and he recriminalised homosexuality in the 1930s. And communist China, more than 15% of the world’s population, criminalised homosexuality despite being under neither Muslim nor Judeo-Christian influences. So I don’t think your theory really holds.

          1. Helge Vladimir Tiller 24 Jul 2012, 7:15pm

            Not all homophobia- of course. But Hitlers Germany was very much influenced ! by Christianity. So was Soviet- even under the “old” communistic rule. I agree with you about China ! Hitler system massacred tens of thousands of gays and lesbians-horrible. But homophobia has existed for several hundred years-in Germany as well as in Eastern Europe; (all countries ) And IT still does—

          2. Helge Vladimir Tiller 24 Jul 2012, 7:54pm

            During Stalin- during Hitler: The absolute majority of the citizens, whether they agreed with these despots or not -were homophobic !

      2. Staircase2 25 Jul 2012, 4:28pm

        Not at all…
        Given the huge control Christianity has had over most of the world historically what he says makes perfect sense…
        Now the truth is that ultimately its PEOPLE who USE this as an excuse who are really to blame. But of course where they’re coming from culturally has the biggest impact on their consciousness or the lack thereof and it’s often overlooked by people who consider themselves free of religious indoctrination just how pervasive Christian culture truly is and has been.

    2. And don’t forget Leviticus 18:22.

  41. W6, as we have established many times, you administrate in your approach to HIV and your interest is in stats and data no matter where that data came from or it’s potential to be inaccurate or tampered with.

    Remember Sigma Research were forced to drop their partnership with THT and end the annual Gay Men’s Sex Survey when it was found that their findings and analyses were being skewed and sexed-up in order to present THT in a favourable light.

    I prefer to deal with human beings, not square-headed academics and scientists who can only ever explore a problem theoretically as opposed to experiencially and therefore only ever provide “solutions” that end up exacerbating the problem.

    I think most of us realise at heart what is going on here and that THT has never been in the business of preventIng HIV to an extent that benefits us and not them.

    Just a shame that our community is indifferent and complacent in all of this and so gets the appalling standard of “prevention” it deserves.

  42. Desmond Tutu is one of those nice and enlightened people I was always afraid to discover that is a homophobic and a bigot. I am glad to know he is not. A true Christian.

  43. Brilliant! For those old enough to remember the song ..”Don’t Mess With My TuTu” (sic) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9nmfcRp6ZY

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