President Obama mentions gay rights in Mandela memorial speech

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama speaks at former South African president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service near Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

BY CHRIS JOHNSON
Washington Blade

President Obama made a veiled reference to the struggle for gay rights across the world in his speech at the memorial service in South Africa honoring the life of the Nelson Mandela. Under the leadership of Mandela, South Africa became the first country in the world to add a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation into its constitution. Obama made the reference to gay rights — saying people around the world are still persecuted for “who they love.”

“The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important,” Obama said. “For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.”

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