|“African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote the following letter to theConstitutional Assembly in response to the National coalition for Gay andLesbian Equality’s campaign to support the inclusion of sexual orientationin the Equality Clause in the Bill of Rights (in the South African Constitution of 1996). It is just one example of the broad alliance-building that was required to keep that clause in the constitution. Desmond Tutu was an ally of LGBT people in South Africa before it was cool – before even hipsters knew that it would one day be cool.
Dear Members of the Constitutional AssemblyRe: The Retention of the Sexual OrientationClause in the Bill of RightsWithin the Church of Christ, and indeed amongstadherents of other faiths, there is much debate and difference of opinion onthe question of homosexuality. The theological and ethical issues are complexand far from resolved. It isindisputable, however, that people’s sexual nature is fundamental to theirhumanity.The apartheid regime enacted laws upon the religiousconvictions of a minority of the country’s population, laws which denied gayand lesbian people their basic human rights and reduced them to socialoutcastes and criminals in their land of birth. These laws are still on theStatute Books awaiting your decision whether or not to include gay and lesbianpeople in the “Rainbow People” of South Africa. It would be a sad dayfor South Africa if any individual or group of law-abiding citizens in SouthAfrica were to find that the Final Constitution did not guarantee theirfundamental human right to sexual life, whether heterosexual or homosexual.I would strongly urge you to include the sexualorientation clause in the Final Constitution.God Bless YouYours sincerely(signed) Desmond Tutu“Beloved, let us love one another, for love isof God – if there is this love among you, then we will know that you are mydisciples.”
*from Sex & Politics in South Africa edited by Hoad, N., Martin, K., Reid, G.