Today the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela–a great president, freedom fighter, political prisoner and an exceptionally courageous leader in the struggle against racial oppression. South Africa’s first post-Apartheid president, Mandela died Thursday night at the age of 95. He will be buried in a state funeral in his hometown of Qunu on December 15. The official memorial service will take place next Tuesday in Johannesburg.
Fighting against racial segregation and oppression in South Africa, Mandela advocated change with hope, forgiveness and peaceful reconciliation, not vengeance or violence. But his message of peace, tolerance and compassion inspired millions around the world.
Amy Lesser, GO Magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief, issued the following statement:
“We deeply mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, perhaps the most influential and important individual of the past century. Overcoming unimaginable adversity, he affected more change than most current world leaders combined. Responsible for the end of racial tyranny in South Africa, Mandela went on to lead the country as its first post-Apartheid president. Among innumerable other accomplishments, he is credited for creating the world’s first constitution to protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Throughout his life, Mandela was an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality. In addition to establishing constitutional protections for gay men and lesbians, he also appointed an openly gay judge to South Africa’s High Court of Appeals. Mandela will be missed not only for his heroic struggle to overcome racism, but also for his steadfast commitment to equality for all people.
“Today the world is in mourning as we say goodbye to a great man, a great leader, and a great champion against the forces of oppression,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in statement released Thursday. “In a nation ravaged by racism, poverty and inequality, Nelson Mandela faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles–yet he never relented in his fight for the people of South Africa.”
In a similar statement mourning the loss of the South African president, HRC President Chad Griffin said: “Nelson Mandela tore down oppression, united a rainbow nation, and always walked arm-in-arm with his LGBT brothers and sisters—and with all people—toward freedom. Though every man, woman and child who seeks justice around the world mourns this loss, his vision of an equal future lives on undimmed.”