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UN holds first high-level meeting on rights of LGBT people

The United Nations (UN) held its first-ever high-level meeting on LGBT rights, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing “outrage” that so many face violence, discrimination and disapproval.

PHOTO BY BENJIE VILLACRUEL

The United Nations (UN) held its first-ever high-level meeting on LGBT rights, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing “outrage” that so many face violence, discrimination and disapproval.

According to Ban, “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. Many governments refuse to acknowledge human rights abuses against LGBT people – or accept responsibility for ending them. Several countries are bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay – or even just talking about being gay.”

He added that he particularly worries “for children and youth who are bullied at school, thrown out of their homes or living on the streets. These abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people: new laws, policies and programmes. This takes leadership and a commitment to work with affected communities.”

Almost 40 countries now legally recognize same-sex couples. This year, as Ban noted, Mozambique, Seychelles and Nauru decriminalized homosexuality this year. Nontheless, over 70 countries worldwide still have laws making homosexuality a crime.

Ban added: “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.”

The UN prides itself of its recent efforts on LGBT human rights, including the first UN Security Council action on sexual orientation, creation of a new UN independent expert role on sexual orientation and gender identity by the UN Human Rights Council, and its UN Free and Equal campaign.

Various heads of State attended the high-level meeting, including Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and US Vice President Joe Biden, who specifically called out Russia, Uganda and Egypt for their anti-LGBT laws.

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