South African theologian and human rights activist, Desmond Tutu, died at the age of 90, after a long battle with prostate cancer.

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The retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role in the “non-violent campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa,” was particularly outspoken on racial justice and LGBTQI rights.

The Fight Against Homophobia: A Worthy Moral Crusade

In 1994, in his foreword to the book Aliens in the Household of God: Homosexuality and Christian Faith in South Africa, he wrote, “If the church, after the victory over apartheid, is looking for a worthy moral crusade, then this is it: the fight against homophobia and heterosexism.” 

In 2013, speaking at the launch of the United Nations’ Free and Equal Campaign, he said, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. 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. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid.”

In 2015, when his daughter, Mpho Tutu van Furth, married a woman, he gave his blessing even when the church did not. Tutu van Furth, a clergywoman herself, had to give up her ordination. 

Speaking on her parents’ reaction to the marriage, Tutu van Furth, stated, “They said they loved me and all they wanted was my happiness.”

‘Anti-Apartheid Hero and LGBT+ Rights Advocate’

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On the news of his passing, tributes poured in.

LGBT+ Rights Ghana tweeted, “Rest In Peace Archbishop [Desmond Tutu]. Thank you for your unwavering support for human rights and principled stand against all forms of oppression. You have been an inspirational figure and will be sorely missed.”

Prominent UK Based LGBT campaigner, Peter Tatchell tweeted, “RIP anti-apartheid hero & LGBT+ rights advocate Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has died aged 90. He stood for universal human rights & condemned homophobia as an evil analogous to racism. Bravo! An extraordinary human rights defender!”

Legal academic, Dr Senthorun Raj, tweeted, “Thank you for your confronting and complex activism, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Rise in Glory.” 

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