Obama speaks at Mandela’s eulogy: ‘Around the world people are still persecuted for who they love’

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Speaking at the eulogy for Nelson Mandela, President Obama made a powerful speech about equality around the world, noting LGBT rights as part of the speech.

Mandela died last Thursday following a long illness at the age of 95.

Describing Mandela as “the last great liberator of the 20th century”, Obama went on to give an impassioned speech about the late freedom fighter in Johannesburg in front of thousands.

He said: “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.”

“After this great liberator is laid to rest, when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength — for his largeness of spirit — somewhere inside ourselves,” Obama said.

“With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance,” he went on, “we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?”

“It took a man like Madiba,” Obama using Mandela’s clan name, by which he was commonly known, “to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well, to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you, to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth.”

“He changed laws,” the US president said, “but he also changed hearts.”

South Africa became the first and so far only country in Africa to legalise marriage rights for same-sex couples in 2006.