Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced that Steven Anderson, a rabidly anti-gay US pastor, would be denied entry into South Africa. Anderson has drawn attention to his Arizona-based Faithful Word Baptist Church with online videos of his extremist positions, including one in which he celebrated the June massacre at an Orlando gay bar.
Mamba Online says the decision “follows a determined campaign by LGBT activists, led primarily by GaySA Radio, to stop the preacher, who calls for the execution of gay people, from spreading his shocking views in the country.” More details:
“We have a duty to prevent harm and hatred in all forms against LGBTI, as any other person in a democratic state,” said Gigaba, including, he explained, needing to “prohibit foreigners who are likely to promote hate speech”.
Gigaba revealed that not only had he declared Anderson an “undesirable person” under the Immigration Act (as someone who advocates “social violence”), but that he had also withdrawn his visa waiver status, granted to US citizens.
“South Africa does not need more hatred advocated to our people,” said Gigaba, confirming that if the pastor attempted to enter the country he would be detained and deported.
Hendrik Baird,GaySA Radio’s station manager, joined Gigaba at the press conference:
Baird thanked Minister Gigaba “for taking this matter seriously and for coming to the right decision that is in the best interests of South Africa,” and for making “an important statement here today”.
He added: “We vow to stay vigilant and to campaign against others who may want to follow in this group’s footsteps.”
Baird also addressed the South Africans who invited Anderson to the country in the first place: “Your hatred has not gone unnoticed, but it has been ineffective. You should hang your heads in shame today, and should take a long and hard look at yourselves and the way you try to make people other than yourself, less than human. We urge you to start a conversation, to put aside your fears and prejudice, and find the truth – we are all the same, no matter whom we love.”
The decision was praised by Matt Beard, executive director of All Out, who said:
We’ve seen how U.S. religious extremists have fueled violence and hate against LGBT people in other parts of Africa. It’s inspiring to see that the South African Government has made a stand for human rights and for the protection of their hate speech laws and constitution.
Anderson told Associated Press that he still plans to go forward with a trip to Botswana for a September 25 event.
Thanks to ‘Religion Dispatches’ for this wake-up call for all who think that the whole of Africa is Anti-Gay. This news of the South African Government’s decision to ban the visit of a U.S. Anti-Gay campaigner, Steven Anderson, chief Pastor of Arizona-based “Faithful Word Baptist Church”, is welcomed by the LGBTI community worldwide.
Conservative fundamentalist preachers from North America might well take note of the fact that the South African Republic does not welcome their proselytizing presence in their part of the African Continent. The general ethos of hatred of Gays in other countries of the African Continent has, hitherto, largely been promoted by North American Anti-Gay groups – as well as other European influences, like that of the former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, who was the first secretary of the GAFCON Provinces in the Anglican Communion. GAFCON is noted for its stance against homosexuals, based on a literal understanding of perceived prohibition of homosexuality in the ‘Clobber Passages’ – mainly of certain Old Testament books of the Bible.
Modern hermeneutical study of the New Testament – and of the scientific and social understanding of homosexuality – has brought the South African Anglican Church, and most Western Provinces of the Communion, into a more eirenic view of this complex and largely misunderstood phenomenon of the human sexual condition. No longer does modern science believe LGBTI people are ‘to blame’ for their sexual orientation. It has taken longer, however, for religious authorities to realise that our sexual orientation is a ‘given’, a neutral state and something to be accepted and worked with on a basis socially consistent with Christian theology and praxis.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand