Desmond Mpilo Tuto is calling on nations to decriminalize gay sex, saying it will help reduce the spread of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.

The 80-year-old Tuto, a retired Anglican bishop, came to prominence in the 80s speaking out against South Africa's apartheid. He is the patron of the Cape Town-based Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

“In the future, the laws that criminalize so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way apartheid laws do to us now – so obviously wrong,” Tutu wrote in last week's edition of The Lancet.

“Never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity.”

Tutu, along with an international team of researchers, goes on to argue that countries that criminalize gay sex often perceive AIDS to be a gay disease. Such an association leads officials to fall short of providing an adequate response to the pandemic.

“The struggle for equity in HIV services is likely to be inseparably linked to the struggle for sexual minority rights – and hence to be both a human rights struggle, and in many countries, a civil rights one,” the paper reads.