LGBT rights groups on Thursday joined millions around the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president who is credited with ending apartheid.

The 95-year-old Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg following a long illness.

“Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to millions around the globe and a personal hero to me,” said Wilson Cruz, national spokesman for GLAAD. “He overcame hardship and discrimination to craft the first constitution that recognized the dignity and humanity of all people, including LGBT people. We will continue to learn and grow from his legacy, even as we mourn his passing and honor his memory.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, said in a press release that Mandela “always walked arm-in-arm with his LGBT brothers and sisters … toward freedom.”

“Though every man, woman and child who seeks justice around the world mourns this loss, his vision of an equal future lives on undimmed,” HRC said. “Mandela, who was South Africa’s first post-Apartheid president, was an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality. He appointed an openly-gay judge to South Africa's High Court of Appeal and during his presidency, South Africa became the first nation in the world to constitutionally prohibit sexual orientation-based discrimination. Mandela will be remembered for his social justice activism and commitment to equality for all people.”

Mandela is survived by his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, three daughters, 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.