The former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, has said that he fights for gay rights because “It’s God catching me by my neck.”

Speaking to Charisma News, Archbishop Tutu said: “Anywhere where the humanity of people is undermined, anywhere where people are left in the dust, there we will find our cause. Sometimes you wish you could keep quiet. It’s the kind of thing you heard the prophet Jeremiah complain of where he says, “You know God, I didn’t want to be a prophet and you made me speak words of condemnation against a people I love deeply. Your word is like a fire burning in my breast.”

“It isn’t that it’s questionable when you speak up for the right of people with different sexual orientation. People took some part of us and used it to discriminate against us. In our case, it was our ethnicity; it’s precisely the same thing for sexual orientation. People are killed because they’re gay. I don’t think, “What do I want to do today? I want to speak up on gay rights.” No. It’s God catching me by my neck.”

Asked what he felt about Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”, Archbishop Tutu said: “He’s taken a selfie! He’s a tremendous breath of fresh air. The things he has done in a short period of time: the fact that he does not live in a huge papal mansion and just dropped by in the dining room where ordinary people have meals. You think of his background, where he didn’t use limousines in South America, that he used public transport. I’ve got to say to you that I’m so, so thrilled that he is there at this crucial moment in the history of our world.”

In July, Archbishop Tutu said: “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.

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about Apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”