South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu received a standing ovation at the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly yesterday when he spoke out in support of gay clergy members, calling on Church members to welcome all, regardless of their sexuality.
The Anglican leader delivered a moving speech, addressing the issues of poverty and homophobia.
“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, who sleep rough, prostitutes, drug addicts, those who are at the edges of our society. In this family there are no outsiders,” Tutu said.
“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.”
His speech comes just days after the Church of Scotland appointed openly gay Scott Rennie as a minister and then postponed making a final decision on gay clergy by setting up a work group to report back in 2011; effectively barring the ordination of any new gay clergy for at least two years.
The Church also banned its clergy from discussing the issue with the media, a move that has been condemned as “suppressing the debate”.
Archbishop Tutu has often criticised segments of the Anglican Church for its homophobia. “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God,” he said in a 2007 interview with BBC radio.
In April 2008 he was given the OUTSPOKEN Award by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for “his leadership as a global ally of the LGBTI community”.