South Africa’s most senior judge who believes “a man should marry a woman” has vowed to protect the rights of all gay citizens.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a lay preacher, previously was criticised for his strong religious views.

He is a member of the Winners’ Chapel, a megachurch that believes gay people can be ‘cured’ of their sexual orientation.

Mr Mogoeng told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday: “I know as a Christian that the Bible speaks against homosexuality, but I have taken an oath and I am very serious about my oath.”

He continued: “It cannot be a lie when I assure the nation that I will uphold the constitution, the laws and the human rights.”

“Justice is not supposed to be perverted, to begin to get at those who are gay and lesbian just because of their choice.

Mr Mogoeng stressed: “My responsibility is to ensure that every gay person, every lesbian person enjoys their right as protected by the bill of rights. There’s no question about that.”

The judge was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as Chief Justice in September 2011.

Mr Mogoeng told South Africa’s Judicial Service Commission prior to his appointment:

“My Church’s opposition to homosexuality is not something peculiar to it, nor does the Church have as its core value, the attitude that homosexuality should not be practised, or is a deviant behaviour.

“It is based purely on the Biblical injunction that a man should marry a woman and that there shall be a husband and a wife. The opposition to homosexuality is not therefore, a sine qua non (main reason) for the existence of Winners Chapel International.”

He went on to say: “The position it has adopted in this regard is similar to that of almost all Christian churches and religions, to which many other judges belong. It is unlike, for example, the Klu Klux Klan, whose core value is racial supremacy.

“The core values of our Church relate to Biblical teachings and the church is not founded on homophobia. It is founded on the Holy Bible. I exercise my freedom of religion as a judge, alive to the commitment (to the constitution) I have made publicly.”

South Africa became the first and so far only country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006.