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Desmond Tutu/Political views

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Desmond Tutu
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The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu
Early Life
Tutu's role during apartheid
Tutu's role since apartheid
Role in South Africa
Chairman of the Elders
Role in the Third World
United Nations Role
Political Views
Other Humanitarian Initiatives
Academic role
One Young World
Media/film appearances
Article discussion

Political views

He is a supporter of the magazine New Internationalist, which campaigns for social and environmental justice worldwide.

Against poverty

Before the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005, Tutu called on world leaders to promote free trade with poorer countries. Tutu also called on an end to expensive taxes on anti-AIDS drugs. Tutu said:

"I would hope they would begin to say, 'lets to do something about subsidies'. You ask the so-called-developing world, 'Why can't you people produce more?' - and they produce - and then they find that the markets have barriers that are put down or are clobbered twice over."[1]
Following this summit, the G8 leaders promised to increase aid to developing countries by $48bn a year by 2010. Further, they gave their word of honour that they would do the best they could to achieve universal access to prevention and treatment for the millions and millions of people globally threatened by HIV/AIDS.

Before the 32nd G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany in 2007, Tutu called on the G8 to focus on poverty in the Third World. Following the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, it appeared that world leaders were determined as never before to set and meet specific goals regarding extreme poverty.[2]

Against unilateralism

In January 2003, Tutu attacked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance in supporting American President George W. Bush over Iraq. The alliance of Britain and the United States of America led to the outbreak of the Iraq War later that year. Tutu asked why Iraq was being singled out when Europe, India and Pakistan also had weapons of mass destruction. Tutu demanded:

"When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in? I just hope that one day that people will realise that peace is a far better path to follow. Many, many of us are deeply saddened to see a great country such as the United States aided and abetted extraordinarily by Britain. I have a great deal of time for your prime minister but I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally. The United States says you do this to the world, if you don't do it we will do it - that's sad."[3]
In October 2004, Tutu appeared in a play at Off Broadway, New York called Guantanamo - Honor-bound to Defend Freedom. This play was highly critical of the US handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Tutu played Lord Justice Steyn, a judge who questions the legal justification of the detention regime.[4]

In January 2005, Tutu added his voice to the growing dissent over terrorist suspects held at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, referring to detentions without trial as "utterly unacceptable." Tutu compared these detentions to those under Apartheid. Tutu also emphasised that when South Africa had used those methods the country had been condemned, however when powerful countries such as Britain and the United States of America had invoked such power the world was silent and in that silence accepted their methods even though they violated essential human rights. Tutu said:

"The rule of law is in order to ensure that those who have power don't use their power arbitrarily and every person retains their human rights until you have proven conclusively that so-and-so is in fact guilty. Whilst we are saying thank you that these have been released, what is happening to those left behind? We in South Africa used to have a dispensation that detained people without trial and the world quite rightly condemned that as unacceptable. Now if it was unacceptable then how come it can be acceptable to Britain and the United States. It is so, so deeply distressing. I am opposed to any arbitrary detention that is happening, even in Britain."[5]
In February 2006, Tutu repeated these statements after a UN report was published which called for the closure of the camp. Tutu stated that the Guantanamo Bay camp was a stain on the character of the United States, while the legislation in Britain which gave a 28 day detention period for terror suspects was "excessive" and "untenable". Tutu pointed out that similar arguments were being made in Britain and the United States which the South African apartheid regime had used. "It is disgraceful and one cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted," said Tutu. Tutu also attacked Tony Blair's failed attempt to hold terrorist suspects in Britain for up to 90 days without charge. "Ninety days for a South African is an awful deja-vu because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention law," he said. Under apartheid, as at Guantanamo Bay, people were held for "unconscionably long periods" and then released, he said. Tutu stated:
"Are you able to restore to those people the time when their freedom was denied them? If you have evidence for goodness sake produce it in a court of law. People with power have an incredible capacity for wanting to be able to retain that power and don't like scrutiny."[6]
In 2007, Tutu stated that the global "war on terror" could not be won if people were living in desperate conditions. Tutu said that the global disparity between rich and poor people creates instability.

"You can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate - poverty, disease, ignorance, et cetera. I think people are beginning to realize that you can't have pockets of prosperity in one part of the world and huge deserts of poverty and deprivation and think that you can have a stable and secure world."[7]

Against HIV/AIDS and TB

Tutu has been a tireless campaigner for health and human rights, and has been particularly vocal in support of controlling TB and HIV.[8] He has served as the honorary chairman for the Global AIDS Alliance and is patron of TB Alert, a UK charity working internationally[9]. 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. “Those of you who work to care for people suffering from AIDS and TB are wiping a tear from God’s eye,” Tutu said.[8]

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."[10]

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.[11]

Church reform

In 2002, Tutu called for a reform of the Anglican Church in regard to how its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury is chosen. The ultimate appointment is made by the British Prime Minister and thus Tutu said that the selection process will only be properly democratic and representative when the link between church and state is broken. In February 2006 Tutu took part in the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. There he manifested his commitment to ecumenism and praised the efforts of Christian churches to promote dialogue to diminish their differences. For Tutu, "a united church is no optional extra."

The Bible

Tutu says he still reads the Bible everyday but recommends that people don't believe everything it teaches: "You have to understand is that the bible is really a library of books and it has different categories of material," he said. "There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn't accept."[12]

Gay rights

In the debate about Anglican views of homosexuality he has opposed Christian discrimination against homosexuals while suggesting homosexual church leaders should currently remain celibate. Commenting days after the 5 August 2003 election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Tutu said, "In our Church here in South Africa, that doesn't make a difference. We just say that at the moment, we believe that they should remain celibate and we don't see what the fuss is about."[13] Tutu has remarked that it is sad the Church is spending time disagreeing on sexual orientation "when we face so many devastating problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and conflict".[14]

Tutu has increased his criticism of conservative attitudes to homosexuality within his own church, equating homophobia with racism. Stating at a conference in Nairobi that he is "deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'".[15] In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on 18 November 2007, Tutu accused the church of being obsessed with homosexuality and declared: "If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God."[16]

Tutu has lent his name to the fight against homophobia in Africa and around the world. He stated at the launching of the book 'Sex, Love and Homophobia' that homophobia is a 'crime against humanity' and 'every bit as unjust' as apartheid. He added that "we struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins...It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given."[17]

Women's rights

On 8 March 2009, Desmond Tutu joined the campaign "Africa for women's rights" launched by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Women's Aid Collective (WACOL), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), Women and Law in South Africa (WLSA) and hundred other African human rights and women's rights organisations. This campaign for the fulfilment of women's human rights, and the end of violence and discrimination against women, aims to generate mass mobilisation and draw maximum attention, in order to increase pressure on African States to ratify the international and regional women's human rights protection instruments, without reservation, and to respect them, in domestic laws and in practice.

In 1994, Tutu said that he approved of artificial contraception and that abortion was acceptable in a number of situations, such as rape and incest. He specifically welcomed the aims of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.[18]

  1. "Archbishop Tutu calls for G8 help". BBC. 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  2. World Aids Campaign (2006-10-19). "Desmond Tutu: Keep your Promises". Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  3. "Tutu condemns Blair's Iraq stance". BBC. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  4. "Tutu in anti-Guantanamo theatre". BBC. 2 October 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  5. "Tutu calls for Guantanamo release". BBC. 12 January 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  6. "Tutu calls for Guantanamo closure". BBC. 17 February 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  7. "Tutu: Poverty fueling terror". CNN. 2007-09-16. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Archbischop Desmond Tutu urges TB/HIV workers to continue to relieve suffering from dual scourges". Desmond Tutu HIV Centre. 2005-09-28. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  9. TB Alert website
  10. "Africans hail conservative Pope". BBC News. 2005-04-20. Retrieved 2006-05-26. 
  11. "Aids stats 'cold comfort'- Tutu". News24. 2007-11-30.,,2-7-659_2230486,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  12. "Tutu urges leaders to agree climate deal". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2009-12-15. 
  13. "Desmond Tutu: gay bishop row is just "fuss"". UK. 2006-08-11. Retrieved 2006-05-26. 
  14. "Tutu calls on Anglicans to accept gay bishop". Spero News. 2005-11-14. Retrieved 2006-05-26. 
  15. "Tutu stands up for gays". Pink News. 2007-01-19. 
  16. "Desmond Tutu chides Church for gay stance". BBC. 2007-11-18. 
  17. Baird, Vanessa; Tutu, Desmond, Archbishop (Foreword); Perry, Grayson (Preface): Sex, Love and Homophobia, Foreword, Amnesty International, 2004.

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