Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has long championed LGBT rights both within Africa and the world over. This week, Tutu reaffirmed his commitment to the affirmation of LGBT rights when he demanded that homosexuality be decriminalized everywhere in the world. His call for decriminalization was also a plea to help the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Tutu wrote a column in The Lancet this week to address the issue of HIV prevention and the often overwhelming stigma of being gay in Africa. Pink News quotes the letter:
They also tell us what we each already know, if we are prepared to be honest with ourselves—that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are a part of every human community.
The Archbishop added that laws aimed at criminalizing the LGBT community are simply wrong and that hindsight will reveal how biased and discriminatory these statutes are. In his own words:
I have no doubt that in the future, the laws that criminalise so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way the apartheid laws do to us now—so obviously wrong. Such a terrible waste of human potential… And never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity, you put a smile on God’s face.
The inspirational and bold statements are part of a larger campaign by Archbishop Tutu to spread awareness about the prevention and treatment of HIV. He heads the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, which provides treatment for the virus and also conducts research, the BBC reports.
Archbishop Tutu’s letter was published the same week as protests filled the streets of Johannesburg during the commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday. The protest was aimed at raising awareness about anti-LGBT activity in South Africa. At least five brutal anti-LGBT murders have occurred in the area within the last two months. There are probably another half dozen anti-gay murders that have gone under the radar, Queerty reports.
The LGBT community still faces an uphill battle in the South African context. Many protesters worry that authorities are indifferent to the anti-gay crimes that riddle the country. The Archbishop’s words have at least called on leadership to reconsider their stance on these issues and to demand change.
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum