barack_obama_includes_gays_in_mandela_tribute_speechUS President Barack Obama included a mention of  the oppression of lesbian and gay people in his speech honouring Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.

Obama delivered a powerful address at the memorial event at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.

He described Mandela as “a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world”.

Obama said that thanks to Mandela, South Africa’s Constitution is “worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African”.

The president when on to acknowledge that while there has been progress in the global struggle for human rights “our work is not done”.

He said that “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!”

The speech was welcomed with wild applause from the crowd and was heard by the likes of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s notoriously homophobic president, who also attended the memorial.

Obama has previously spoken out in support of LGBT rights while in Africa.

In June, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and Obama exchanged words over the issue of LGBT rights during the American leader’s visit to the country.

Obama’s comment that “people should be treated equally… regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation” was met with derision by Mugabe, who later commented that “I thought that since your father was black you would understand and know the African tradition”.

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