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Following the lead of neighbor South Africa, the president of Botswana is turning away an anti-gay pastor who became infamous for celebrating the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June.
President Ian Khama ordered that Pastor Steven Anderson, of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, be arrested and deported from his country following a radio interview where Anderson called for the killing of gays and lesbians. (He has previously preached that America could have an “AIDS-free world by Christmas” by killing all gay people.)
Khama expressed concerns over Anderson’s remarks, which he called “hate speech,” telling Anderson to proselytize and spread his anti-LGBT message in his own country.
“I said they should pick him up and show him out of the country,” Khama told Reuters. “We don’t want hate speech in this country.”
Khama said that Anderson had been put on a visa watch-list after he was previously refused a visa to visit South Africa. But Anderson and his 17-person entourage apparently managed to cross into Botswana before border guards had been alerted to their status.
South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba had previously rescinded the privilege of not having to apply for a visa to visit South Africa for Anderson and the 17 people traveling with him, based on Anderson’s past anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Like Khama, Gigaba also characterized those past comments as “hate speech,” which is prohibited under South Africa’s constitution.
Anderson denied he was being deported, however, telling the radio station: “I am not being arrested. I am leaving Botswana voluntarily.”
Last week, after being banned from South Africa, Anderson indicated he intended to travel to Botswana, where it is illegal to engage in homosexual acts. He praised Botswana for its “religious freedom,” and implied that he felt people there might be more receptive to his message.
Onkokame Mosweu, a commentator on gay and lesbian affairs, commended the government for taking action to deport Anderson, but also said that the controversial pastor “should have never been allowed to come to Botswana in the first place.”
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