Retired Emeritus Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane have called for all Anglican churches to recognise gay and lesbian communities. SABC News reported that the two archbishops proclaimed that sexuality was not a matter of choice while speaking at the funeral of the former Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Father Rowan Smith, who was openly gay.
“…Sexual orientation is not something that you choose, it’s a gift,” said Tutu, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community.
He added that Father Smith “stood up for truth” and played an instrumental role in opening St George’s Cathedral to those who were marginalised in society.
Njongonkulu reiterated Tutu’s words and also said that it was time for action to be taken in accepting members of the gay and lesbian community. “We are hurting quite a sizeable number of people who are members of the churches. Because you don’t choose your sexuality. You’re born with it and therefore we need to embrace them,” he insisted.
Father Smith passed away at the age of 74 after being hospitalised for breaking his hip at the cathedral in late March. He was commonly referred to as the” Priest of the People.” His funeral was held on Saturday, June 2.
Smith was ordained deacon at St Nicholas’ Church in Matroosfontein in 1967, and a priest in St George’s Cathedral in 1968. He was considered an iconic gay figure when he came out in 1998, after being named the Dean of Cape Town.
He served as dean until his retirement in 2010 and was loved and backed by his congregation and was highly respected in the city.
A proud member of the LGBT community, Smith publicly supported many awareness campaigns to end discrimination and violence against LGBT people. He was also a well-known anti-apartheid activist and fought for the rights of people living with HIV and Aids.