The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has promised to lead a global campaign for LGBT rights.
And he has told governments around the world that they have a ‘legal duty’ to protect gay and trans people and that ‘culture, tradition or religion’ could not be used as an excuse for failing to do so.
His comments in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity yesterday (15 April) were not his first remarks on sexual orientation or gender identity – but were the strongest-worded.
The head of the UN has previously called the criminalization of homosexuality ‘an outrage’ inherited from ‘former colonial powers’, saying the laws ‘must go’.
Some of the same language is reflected in his address to the Oslo delegates.
But perhaps even more significant was the fact Ban told LGBT people ‘I am with you’ and added he was committed to leading a global campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights through the UN.
His comments in full were: ‘We should all be outraged when people suffer discrimination, assault and even murder, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We should all speak out when someone is arrested and imprisoned because of who they love or how they look.
‘This is one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time. We must right these wrongs.
‘Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone but far too many still refuse to acknowledge the injustice of homophobic violence and discrimination.
‘We need to document this problem and share information with the states on a regular basis for discussion and action.
‘We must institutionalize our efforts to address a discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We need public education to change popular attitudes.
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