JOHANNESBURG (AP) — An American pastor who has made anti-gay comments has been barred from entering South Africa, the government said Tuesday.
Steven Anderson and members of the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, Arizona will not be allowed to travel to South Africa because they allegedly promote hate speech and "social violence," said Malusi Gigaba, the home affairs minister.
South Africa is still struggling to curb discrimination despite laws that are among the most "progressive" in the world, and the country does not "need more hatred advocated to our people," Gigaba said. South African laws forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and allow same-sex marriage.
Anderson criticized the decision, which prevents him from hosting what his church website lists as a "soul-winning marathon" in Johannesburg on Sunday.
However, he said he plans to proceed with a trip to Botswana for a Sept. 25 event.
"I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana," Anderson said on Facebook. "Stand by for reports of MULTITUDES saved in Botswana, where religious freedom still exists."
Activists had urged South Africa's government to bar Anderson from entering, and they are campaigning against the Botswana visit.
Same-sex activities face legal challenges in Botswana. This year, an appeals court ruled against the government and said an LGBT group should be allowed to officially register.