Our International Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been a tireless campaigner for health and human rights, and has been particularly vocal in support of controlling TB and HIV. He is also Patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, a registered Section 21 non-profit organisation, and has served as the honorary chairman for the Global AIDS Alliance and is patron of TB Alert, a UK charity working internationally. In 2003 the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre was founded in Cape Town, while the Desmond Tutu TB Centre was founded in 2003 at Stellenbosch University. Tutu suffered from TB in his youth and has been active in assisting those afflicted, especially as TB and HIV/AIDS deaths have become intrinsically linked in South Africa.
On 20 April 2005, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Tutu said he was sad that the Roman Catholic Church was unlikely to change its opposition to condoms amidst the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa: “We would have hoped for someone more open to the more recent developments in the world, the whole question of the ministry of women and a more reasonable position with regards to condoms and HIV/AIDS.”
In 2007, statistics were released that indicated HIV and AIDS numbers were lower than previously thought in South Africa. However, Tutu named these statistics “cold comfort” as it was unacceptable that 600 people died of AIDS in South Africa every day. Tutu also rebuked the government for wasting time by discussing what caused HIV/AIDS, which particularly attacks Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for their denialist stance.
Presently, Desmond Tutu urges Uganda to drop bid to jail gays and lesbians.
He has urged Uganda to scrap a controversial draft law that would send gays and lesbians to jail and, some say, put them at risk of the death penalty.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to become law after Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga offered it to Ugandans as a “Christmas gift.” The bill is believed to exclude the death penalty clause after international pressure forced its removal, but gay rights activists say much of it is still horrendous.
“I am opposed to discrimination, that is unfair discrimination, and would that I could persuade legislators in Uganda to drop their draft legislation, because I think it is totally unjust,” Tutu told reporters here on Tuesday at the All Africa Conference of Churches meeting.
Desmond Tutu is the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and was a hero of the anti-apartheid movement, he has emerged as a leading pro-gay voice both in the church and across Africa.
With African church leaders passionately preaching against homosexuality as sinful and against African culture, Tutu said the church must stand with minorities.
“My brothers and sisters, you stood with people who were oppressed because of their skin color. If you are going to be true to the Lord you worship, you are also going to be there for the people who are being oppressed for something they can do nothing about: their sexual orientation,” he said.
Tutu said people do not choose their sexual orientation, and would be crazy to choose homosexuality “when you expose yourself to so much hatred, even to the extent of being killed.”