United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the international community to continue working for equal rights and fair treatment for LGBT people, reiterating the UN’s commitment to securing their human rights.
“I will always fight for the equality of the LGBT members of our human family,” the UN chief said at a high-level side event of the UN’s LGBT Core Group, entitled “#Path2Equality: Global leaders discuss progress towards LGBT equality,” held at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday afternoon.
“This work will not leave me when I leave office – and it must not leave the office of the Secretary-General after I depart,” he said.
Acknowledging that when he first became Secretary-General, he did not know much about the challenges faced by LGBT people, Mr. Ban said that he learned by listening.
“Everyone who lacks understanding should listen closely,” he stressed. “The facts are disturbing. Every year, hundreds are killed, thousands are badly hurt, and millions live their lives under a shadow of discrimination and disapproval. That is an outrage.”
Moreover, many governments refuse to acknowledge human rights abuses against LGBT people – or accept responsibility for ending them, Mr. Ban said.
Noting that several countries are “bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay – or even just talking about being gay,” the Secretary-General said that he is particularly worried for children and youth who are bullied at school, thrown out of their homes or living on the streets.
Those abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people, including instituting new laws, policies and programmes, he said, adding that such action requires leadership and a commitment to work with affected communities.
“I ask those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights: what do you gain by making others less equal? Is your religion or culture so weak that the only way you can sustain it is by denying others their basic rights? There is no room in our 21st century for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mr. Ban said.
Progress, however, is being seen at the UN Nations Human Rights Council, where more than 100 countries have accepted recommendations aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination, he said. In addition, next month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will release a study on more than 200 initiatives in 65 countries.