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Tutu denounces use of religion against gays

Comments made by video to Vancouver peace summit

Retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu has denounced the use of religion to spread fear of homosexuals and those foreign to us.

“Religion has often been used diabolically to encourage all kinds of awfulness — xenophobia and homophobia,” he said.

He made the comments by video from South Africa Sunday at the opening of the Vancouver Peace Summit: Nobel Laureates in Dialogue. Tutu could not attend the summit in person due to a back injury.

His comments were made on the day he and the Dalai Lama became the inaugural recipients of the $100,000 Fetzer Prize for Love and Forgiveness. The Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Fetzer Institute, founded by broadcaster John Fetzer to promote the power of love, compassion and forgiveness, conferred the award.

Tutu’s daughter, The Rev Mpho Tutu, accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

The Dalai Lama was present for the ceremony held at UBC.

Tutu’s statement against homophobia comes as the worldwide Anglican Church continues to be divided over the issue of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clerics.

The first Anglican blessing of a same-sex relationship in an officially approved rite took place in Vancouver.

Tutu used Sunday’s ceremony to announce a global peace conference to be held in 2012.

The Anglican leader said from South Africa the conference will be held to promote compassion “in a world that has been noted for its violence.”

The Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of the world’s Tibetan Buddhists, said the conference would be about “the relationship between world peace and personal peace.”

A conference venue and dates are still to be announced.

All humans are the same at an elemental level, the Dalai Lama said. “On that level, there is no reason to fight.”

This is the Dalai Lama’s third visit to Vancouver in the past five years.

The Sep 26-29 summit includes dialogues on peace with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams, as well as writer Eckhart Tolle and Maria Shriver, the wife of California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Vancouver is home to The Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education.

During his last visit in 2006, the Dalai Lama was accorded honorary Canadian citizenship.