Desmond Tutu has said he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic god.

The retired archbishop was speaking at the United Nations' launch of its gay-rights program in Cape Town, South Africa, a country where there is still much prejudice against gay people.

He said: "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.

desmond tutu

Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu

"I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.

"I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level."

Tutu has been a long-time campaigner for gay rights.

Discrimination in Africa is still prevalent and homosexuality remains illegal in 38 countries with violent attacks common.

Last month a lesbian was killed after being sexually assaulted with a toilet brush.