Desmond Tutu: We Must Fight Injustice to Animals

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Desmond Tutu©

Today marks Desmond Tutu’s 84th birthday. The South African social rights activist has fought against apartheid, poverty, racism and homophobia, and his campaigning hasn’t just been restricted to humans. His stance on animal rights is also inspiring.

In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, he wrote the following:

I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights. I could not have lived with myself, as a Christian and a bishop, if I had looked the other way. But the business of fighting injustice is like fighting a multiheaded hydra. As one form of injustice appears to be vanquished, another takes its place. Even if the path of progress seems interminably long, we can content ourselves with the sense that injustices to other human beings are at least on the agenda, or mostly so.

But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.

I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

Wise words indeed. To celebrate Archbishop Tutu’s birthday, take a moment to speak out loudly on behalf of animals. From speaking out against animal testing to protesting against the cruelty of factory farms, there are many ways for you to make your voice heard.



  • Caroline hope commented on October 7, 2015 at 11:23 am

    South Africa was once pressurised by the world over apartheid now they need to have the same over their hunting laws especially canned hunting which is not a sport but inhumane way of making money! Stand up for those who need it most!

  • Margaret Boyle commented on October 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I see abuse… Stop!! Let’s make a change!!

  • valerie blankhart commented on October 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Signed. Desmond Tutu is so right. Animals/Wildlife need our help to protect them from some of the evil humans in the World today. It is extremely important we rally together to stop torturing and murdering these beautiful creatures. Animals are loyal, loving, intelligent creatures who need love and respect not torture.

  • Rochelle Caldwell commented on October 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    We must defend our animals!

  • Jean Leloine commented on October 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Contre la cruauté faites aux animaux

  • Maria Artoon commented on October 24, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Archbishop Tutu’s comments about justice and kindness towards animals show that he is sensitive to all the injustices and suffering of the world. I wish him many happy returns; we need him to keep using his influence to encourage those in power to promote the ethical treatment of all humans and animals.

  • Jim Vaughan commented on October 27, 2015 at 9:07 am

    So often religion is associated with bigotry and a lack of concern for animals. Desmond Tutu is a shining example of what Christianity should and could be.

    Animals are sentient, yet we treat them as commodities. It is so refreshing to hear Bishop Tutu include all sentient beings in the fight against injustice.

    (Belated) happy birthday! May you live long.

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