JOHANNESBURG: South Africa on Tuesday banned a Holocaust-denying, anti-gay American pastor from entering the country, after an outcry from rights groups over his characterization of gays as “sodomites” and “pedophiles.”
Steven Anderson, who in 2009 infamously prayed for US President Barack Obama’s death, had planned a “soul-winning” visit to South Africa at the weekend.
But Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba declared the Christian preacher a “prohibited person” following objections over his “hate speech”.
“Steven Anderson and members or associates of his church are prohibited from entering the Republic of South Africa,” Gigaba said at a press conference in Cape Town.
“We have a duty to prevent harm and hatred, in all forms, against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex) as against any other person in a democratic state,” the minister said.
Anderson has frequently courted controversy through his Arizona-based Faithful Word Baptist Church, which preaches a literal reading of the Bible.
A Holocaust denier, he prayed for the death of US President Barack Obama in 2009 over his pro-choice stance on abortion, and called the victims of the November 2015 attack on the Bataclan nightclub in Paris “devil worshipers”.
After the deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this year, he said “there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world.”
And in an interview with a Cape Town radio station earlier Tuesday, Anderson called Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu—a vocal supporter of the LGBTI community and whose daughter is lesbian—a “pervert… who goes around in a pink dress”.
An online petition against the planned visit to South Africa garnered over 60,000 signatures.
Responding to his ban in a Facebook post, Anderson said, “I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa.”
He said a planned visit to neighboring Botswana, where homosexual acts are illegal, was still scheduled to go ahead.
Americans do not require visas to travel to South Africa, but Gigaba on Tuesday also revoked Anderson’s visa exemption status.
“If we find him at any of our ports of entry, we will detain and deport him,” said Gigaba.
“We don’t want him in this country.”
South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that recognizes gay rights and the only one that allows same-sex marriages. AFP