Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth followed in her father’s footsteps to become ordained as a minister in 2003 and wed long-time partner, Dutch academic Marceline Van Furth, in a quiet ceremony in the Netherlands in December.
Her licence was revoked following the union.
Speaking to the BBC, Tutu-van Furth said that though she was upset about the decision, she defiantly urged people to “always choose love”.
“Everything else will fall into place somehow. When in doubt, just do the loving thing,” she said.
She went on: “The reality is that not only do we have gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people of every description sitting in our pews. To be perfectly honest, we have all those people standing in our pulpits too. Yet, very often they sit in the pews and they stand in fear in the pulpits because they’re not free to fully own who they are and who they love.”
Archbishop Tutu, arguably one of the world’s most renowned church leaders, has previously compared anti-gay laws to the Apartheid discrimination in South Africa, which he fought to bring to an end.
He said: “I am absolutely, utterly and completely certain that God wouldn’t be homophobic. I really would much rather go to hell than go to a homophobic heaven.”
|SADDENED: Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth with father, Archbishop Desmond Tutu|
“Of course he’s a father and I’m his child,” she said.
She added: “A few years ago, I consecrated the eucharist with my father and to now be in a position where I can’t serve at the altar with him…I was surprised at how much it hurt and how it landed because it wasn’t unexpected.”
Although South Africa legalised same-sex marriage in 2006, the Anglican church in the country teaches that marriage is a union of a man and woman.
The church remains deeply divided and will decide this year whether to adopt guidelines drawn up by its bishops on welcoming members who have entered into same-sex civil marriages.
It is the second marriage for both women; Tutu-van Furth’s previous marriage was to Joseph Burns, with whom she has two daughters.
Furth who is also a mother is a professor in paediatric infectious diseases at Vrije University in Amsterdam.
“Falling in love with Marceline was much a surprise to me as to anyone else. I knew when I married Marceline that there was a chance I would have to give up my license.”