Cape Town - The LGBTQIA+ community is experiencing a “great loss” following the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Archbishop Tutu was a champion for the LGBTQIA+ community and openly campaigned for the rights of gender diverse people by likening their struggle to apartheid.
Archbishop Tutu once stated: "I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."
Sharon Cox, Triangle Project acting director said: “His role for the LGBTQIA+ community was enormous because prejudice, discrimination, rejection and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is very often driven by religious belief and religious intolerance.
“We as communities have spent so much time hearing this hatred based on the heaven and hell concept, so for him to speak words like that meant so much because it not only spoke to the power of religion to be destructive but it also spoke to LGBTQIA+ people who have either walked away from their faith or felt absolutely dejected and hopeless,” Cox said.
Tebogo Nkoana, Transgender and Intersex Africa director, said the support he showed cannot be measured.
“He refused to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community within the religious space because he saw us as the same as any other person. It was very courageous of him to stand up and speak very publicly, for protecting our rights and fighting against homophobic religious leaders.
“It helped leaders to see things differently, it helped people to shift their minds and attitude towards LGBTQIA+ communities,” said Nkoana.
Liberty Matthyse, Gender Dynamix director, remembers the kind of effect he had being in the same room as him.
“I admired him so much and greatly respected him as a religious leader for stepping out onto that platform on a continent that is so homophobic, so transphobic and taking a principled stance that equality is either full equality or no equality and nobody can be left behind and that was the powerful message I got form him in the room,” said Matthyse.
Luxolo Ndlovu, Kasi Pride founder said: “Archbishop Tutu shook many grounds in Christianity, especially pertaining to homosexuality. He started difficult conversations which many pastors engaged in, even though there was initially resistance by many in the beginning.
“Many gay people are now able to start their own congregations or attend church without fear of being judged.”