Desmond Tutu’s lesbian daughter barred from officiating funeral

The Church of England has been denied Mpho Tutu van Furth the right to officiate her godfather's funeral because she is married to a woman.

The photograph shows Mpho Tutu with her father Bishop Desmond Tutu. Mpho is hugging her father. both are grinning and looking directly at the camera.
Image: @antenneinclusive via Instagram

Mpho Tutu van Furth, the daughter of the late Desmond Tutu, has been barred by the Church of England from officiating the funeral of her godfather because she is in a same-sex marriage.

During a visit to London last April, Tutu van Furth, an ordained priest in the Anglican church, was asked by Martin Kenyon, her 92 year-old godfather and life-long family friend, to preside over his funeral, according to a report in Voice of America. 

However, after his passing last week, the Church of England said, “in line with the House of Bishops current guidance on same-sex marriage” they could not permit her to officiate the ceremony.

Speaking to Voice of America about the impact of the church’s decision, Marceline Tutu van Furth, Mpho’s wife, said, “She fell in love with me and then she had the courage to marry me and then she can’t be the person she is as a priest and that’s … I don’t understand that.”

Although South Africa recognises same-sex marriage, Tutu van Furth was forced to give up working as a priest in 2016 because the Anglican church there does not permit its clergy to be in same-sex marriages.

Marceline continued, “She had to hand in her license and now this is the second time that I’m aware of… that she can’t do something out of love for her godfather and for the family, just because of the same-sex marriage, and that’s something that upsets me.” 

Explaining her reasons for speaking out about the incident she continued, “The Tutu family has always been very welcoming to me. And Mpho [is] very polite and I thought now I’m going to make action [sic]. The Tutu family always have action and I thought, now it’s my turn.”

Although Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, had given a father’s blessing to his daughter’s marriage, he was also barred from conducting the wedding ceremony on the same grounds that the Anglican church does not recognise same-sex marriage. 

Archbishop Tutu who won the Noble Prize for his humanitarian work was also a fervent LGBTQ+ ally. Speaking at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town in 2013 he said, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven … I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this… I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid.”

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