A bishop has been taken to court in South Africa after he claimed that gay people were lower than animals—and more confused than dogs.

Port Elizabeth’s Equality Court heard a complaint made against bishop Joshua Maponga about an anti-gay sermon he gave on January 13, reports The Weekend Post.

Church member Zolani Simayi, who is from east London, said that the bishop used negative terms when speaking about gay people in the service at Seventh Day Adventist Church in KwaMagxaki.

Bishop says gay men have “gone below animals”

“[Maponga] further suggested that the act of males sleeping with males is a manifestation that humans have also gone below animals,” Simayi said, according to  The Weekend Post.

“The sermon was not proper. It was hinging on the violation of the rights to dignity of the LGBTI individuals.”

Bishop Joshua Maponga allegedly said gay people are "lower" than animals
Bishop Joshua Maponga said he has apologised over the sermon. (Joshua Maponga/Facebook)

He added: “Everyone has a right to freedom of expression, but that right is not absolute—it has limitations.

“That is, it must not lead to the spread of hate or infringe on the right to dignity of the LGBTI individuals.

“The sermon was not proper. It was hinging on the violation of the rights to dignity of the LGBTI individuals.”

—Zolani Simayi

Bishop apologises for anti-gay remarks

Maponga claimed he had apologised twice to Simayi, but added: “He cannot hang me on a cross—I cannot change the Bible.”

The bishop said he made the sermon in relation to statements in the Bible’s Epistle to the Romans.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church in KwaMagxaki, where bishop Joshua Maponga reportedly said gay people are more confused than dogs
Bishop Joshua Maponga allegedly made the sermon at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in KwaMagxaki. (KwaMagxaki SDA Church/Facebook)

In a written apology to the South Africa Human Rights Commission, Maponga said: “It is unfortunate that I used the illustration of ‘dogs’ to make the point about this Bible text.

“I am sorry for the pain I caused and I understand the seriousness of the issue of the right to be treated with dignity and the preaching of the gospel without dehumanising other people.

“The extent of the damage caused by the debate and the sermon cannot be revoked.”

Simayi has rejected the bishop’s apologies, saying: “[Maponga] must take full responsibility and be specific with what he is sorry for.”

A further court date is expected to be scheduled.

Seventh Day Adventist Church said Maponga was not an employee at the church.

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