IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Desmond Tutu's daughter barred from funeral role over gay marriage

Mpho Tutu van Furth, an Episcopal priest in the U.S., could not oversee her godfather’s funeral in the Church of England because she is married to a woman.
Union of Reverend Mpho Tutu and Professor Marceline Furth in South Africa
Reverend Mpho Tutu, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and her wife, Professor Marceline Furth, at their home in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2016.Foto24 / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been barred from officiating at a funeral in a church in England because she is married to a woman, the BBC reported Friday.

Mpho Tutu van Furth, who is an ordained Anglican priest in the U.S., had been asked to oversee the funeral of her godfather, Martin Kenyon.

The BBC reported that the Church of England had ruled she could not lead the service in a church. The Diocese of Hereford told the broadcaster that “advice was given in line with the House of Bishops current guidance on same-sex marriage.”

The global Anglican Communion is divided over same-sex marriage. The Church of England allows its clergy to be in same-sex unions only if they are celibate. The U.S. Episcopal Church permits clergy to preside over, and enter into, same-sex marriages.

Tutu van Furth told the BBC that the Church of England decision “seemed really churlish and hurtful.”

The BBC said that because of the church ruling the funeral on Thursday was moved from St. Michael and All Angels Church in the village of Wentnor to an outdoor marquee nearby so Tutu van Furth could preside over it.

Kenyon, who died Sept. 7 at the age of 92, was a long-time friend of Desmond Tutu. The South African anti-apartheid icon died in December, aged 90.

In 2020, Kenyon was one of the first people in the world to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and his matter-of-fact interview with CNN outside a London hospital went viral.

“I hope I don’t get the bloody bug now,” he said. “There’s no point in dying now when I’ve lived this long, is there?”

Follow NBC Out on TwitterFacebook & Instagram.