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Africa's anti-homophobia laws exist only on paper - Desmond Tutu's daughter

Africa's anti-homophobia laws exist only on paper - Desmond Tutu's daughter

South Africa

Reverend Mpho Tutu-van Furth, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has denounced the persistence of prejudice against homosexuals in Africa despite laws in place in a few countries.

“The reality is that in large parts of Africa homophobic laws are tolerated and even where laws and the rights of LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender) are protected, this protection exists only on paper, not in reality,” Tutu-van Furth, told AFP on Tuesday.

She was forced to abandon her priesthood in May this year after marrying Marceline van Furth, a teacher based in Amsterdam. Giving up the priesthood meant she lost the license to give communion and bless marriages, baptisms or funerals.

People continue to be victims of discrimination, even though on paper you are entitled to fair treatment and protection. These protections are not part of the experience for many people.

“The experience of the people is very different from promises contained in documents containing our rights, and constitutions,” said the daughter of the Nobel Peace Prize and former anti-apartheid activist added.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the congress of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) in Johannesburg.

Generally, homosexuality is still considered a crime in most African countries. South Africa is a pioneer in the area with marriage between people of the same sex being legal since 2006. The prejudices however in traditional societies.

“People continue to be victims of discrimination, even though on paper you are entitled to fair treatment and protection. These protections are not part of the experience for many people,” said the pastor.

She tasked the church to be at the center of championing the rights of people rather than being part of the problem. “The church should indeed be central to the agenda of human rights and the center of those who advocate for the rights of human beings. It is not always on the safe side” she bemoaned.

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