An American pastor notorious for his homophobic sermons and online posts has been barred from entering South Africa to spread his message. Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced on Sept. 13 that Pastor Steven Anderson, members of his church and any associates traveling with him have been declared undesirable persons and will not be allowed to enter the country.
HIs ban is in line with post-apartheid laws prohibiting groups advocating racial hatred or social violence, Gigaba’s statement said.
Anderson was banned after South Africa’s LGBTQI community lobbied the South African government to revoke his visa exempt status as an American visitor. The government also took note of petitions with over 60,000 signatures demanding to stop Anderson on his “Soul Winning” mission to preach in South Africa on Sept. 17 and 18. Visiting American evangelical groups have contributed to homophobic laws in other parts of Africa, including Uganda.
Anderson gained notoriety when he posted a YouTube video making hateful comments about the victims of the June 12 Orlando nightclub mass shooting. Anderson’s church, the Faithful World Baptist Church in Arizona, holds fundamentalist beliefs against women’s reproductive rights, modernism, liberalism and homosexuality.
Since July, more and more South Africans began to support the ban, including prominent religious leaders and the government. In response, Anderson hurled insults at the Home Affairs office and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu for supporting gay rights.
“South Africa has its own mending to do; we do not need more hatred advocated to our people,” Gigaba said in his statement. The minister said that South Africa’s LGBTQI community still faced much violence and prejudice, but upholding constitutional laws against homophobia and hate would go some way.
“I have been banned from South Africa AND the United Kingdom. I am not even allowed to have a connecting flight in London,” Anderson wrote on his Facebook page. “I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana.”
Anderson also said banning him would make no difference as his message had already spread in South Africa through this controversy. In Botswana, gay rights are still frowned upon, but earlier this year a court ruling forced the government to recognize LGBTQI organizations.