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Archbishop Tutu to Give Historic Address LGBTI Community in San Francisco

(April 1, 2008, New York) - On April 8, 2008, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will give an historic 30-minute address to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco-the first time that he has directly addressed such a large LGBTI gathering in the United States. He will address a crowd of approximately 400 people at A Celebration of Courage, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's (IGLHRC's) annual gala awards ceremony, where he will also be honored for his leadership on human rights.

"Archbishop Tutu is a true human rights activist, someone who acknowledges that all human beings are inherently valuable and deserve to be treated with respect," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's executive director. "He has consistently stood up for justice and inclusion and for all those subject to human rights abuses-including members of the LGBTI community. His work has paved the way for a better world."

Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, on 7th October 1931, Archbishop Tutu became a leading voice in the crusade for justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. In 1984, he received a Nobel Peace Prize to recognize his extraordinary contributions to the struggle against apartheid. He was elected Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, and promoted to Archbishop of Cape Town the following year. As Archbishop, he became a principal mediator and conciliator in the transition to democracy in South Africa. In 1995, President Nelson Mandela appointed him Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set up to probe gross human rights violations that occurred under apartheid. In 1996, shortly after his retirement from office as Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu was granted the honorary title of Archbishop Emeritus.

Archbishop Tutu has persistently challenged discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a 2004 article that appeared in The Times (London), he condemned persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, comparing it to apartheid. "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," he wrote. "It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups."

Archbishop Tutu has also vigorously criticized the segments of the 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. He has challenged the church for "being almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality" at a time when "our world is facing problems-poverty, HIV and AIDS-a devastating pandemic, and conflict." In contrast to many church leaders, Archbishop Tutu's vision of God's family is a strikingly inclusive one, "All are insiders," he emphasized in a 2006 speech at Union Theological Seminary. "All belong-white, black, red, yellow, Arab, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, young old, male, female, rich poor, gay, lesbian and so-called straight-all belong."

"Archbishop Tutu's vision is of a world where everyone's human rights are respected," said Ettelbrick. "He has challenged political apartheid in South Africa and continues to challenge spiritual apartheid within his religious community. He sets a stellar example of human rights advocacy at its most inclusive-and best."

At the April 8 event, IGLHRC will present Archbishop Tutu with its OUTSPOKEN Award, which recognizes the leadership of a global ally to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community whose outspokenness has contributed substantially to advancing the rights and understanding of LGBTI people everywhere.

For more information about the award, and about IGLHRC's A Celebration of Courage event, visit:


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit for more information



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