Equality Illinois joins the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Mandela presided over a new South Africa whose constitution and policies protected its citizens regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It later became the first and only African nation to recognize same-sex marriages. After he left office, the human rights icon took up Africa’s fight against HIV and AIDS as one of his major pursuits.
In 2005 after the death of his lone surviving son, Mandela announced that he had died from an AIDS-related illness. “Let us give publicity to H.I.V./AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of H.I.V./AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary,” he said.