The decision of South African authorities to ban controversial U.S. pastor Steven Anderson and several members of the Faith Word Baptist Church from visiting the country has been applauded by many.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced his decision on Tuesday to prevent Anderson and several members of the controversial anti-gay church from visiting the country.
Gigaba said Anderson and members of his church are “undesirable persons” as they “promote hate speech” and “advocate social violence,” Times Live reported.
“The promotion of equality binds the state and all persons to prevent and prohibit hate speech,” Gigaba told the press.
Pastor Steven Anderson and the Faithful Word Baptist Church made the headlines earlier this year after he praised the Orlando nightclub shooting which left about 50 people dead. Hours after the shooting occurred, Anderson said it was “good news,” adding that there are “50 less pedophiles in the world,” the Daily Mail reported.
The South African minister’s announcement that Anderson and 17 members of his church have been barred from traveling to the country comes after weeks of protests against the planned visit.
Before Gigaba revealed his decision, gay and lesbian activists had presented the minister with the signatures of about 60,000 people who opposed Anderson’s visit, Reuters reported.
In response to the South African minister’s announcement, the Faithful Word Baptist Church posted a statement from Pastor Steven Anderson on Facebook where the anti-gay cleric said he “feels sorry for the people who live in South Africa.” The statement revealed that Anderson has also been barred from visiting the UK or even landing in the country to board a connecting flight to another destination.
The news that Anderson and members of his homophobic church have been denied entry to South Africa has been welcomed by many. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said that it is “heartened” by Gigaba’s announcement, News24 reported. The commission said it had received complaints from people who were worried about the impact of Anderson’s visit to the country.
So vele US Pastor Steven Anderson isn't allowed to enter South Africa anyway it's good because he is homophobic and doesn't like Africans ????— SIBONGILE NTULI (@Sibongile_Dust) September 13, 2016
Now that we've prevented homophobic pastor Steven Anderson from visiting South Africa can we kick out the homophobic pastors who live here?— Vincent Hofmann (@vincenthofmann) September 13, 2016
Why must Home affairs wait for pastor Steven Anderson to put a foot wrong in #SouthAfrica when the Dalai Lama never got that chance?— Erraheim (@erraheim) September 13, 2016
60,000 @allout members protested & today hate-mongering homophobe, Pastor Steven Anderson, was banned from entering South Africa— ((( Bernard MG ))) (@NewBMG) September 13, 2016
The botched visit of Anderson to South Africa has turned the spotlight on the state of gay and lesbian individuals in the country. South Africa is the only African country that has decriminalized homosexuality. Although gay and lesbians have legal protection in the country, homosexuality continues to be frowned upon culturally in rural parts of the country. Lesbians are often raped to somehow compel them to stop being gay, the Telegraph reported.
“This matter points sharply to the need for more advocacy, sensitization, and awareness-raising on gender identity, sexual orientation and on other discriminatory social hatreds,” Gigaba said.
South African authorities were apparently considering permitting Pastor Anderson to visit the country under certain restrictions, eNCA reported. However, the country’s home affair’s ministry was forced to take action after Anderson posted a video online mocking Gigaba.
In the video, Anderson described Gigaba as a “joke” saying that he would not ban him from entering the country and was simply stringing protesters along. “I mean look, if he was going to ban me he would have done it months ago,” Anderson said.
Under normal circumstances, American citizens do not have to apply for a visa to visit South Africa. Gigaba said he had withdrawn this visa exemption privilege enjoyed by U.S. nationals from Anderson and his 17 church members. Gigaba did not specify how long the ban on Pastor Anderson and his church members would last.
Meanwhile, Pastor Anderson is looking to visit Botswana after being denied from traveling to South Africa. Some gay and lesbian activists have called on Batswana authorities to follow South Africa’s lead and also bar the anti-gay US cleric from visiting the country.
[Photo by Obed Zilwa/AP Images]