U.N. Secretary-General Defends LGBT Rights In Africa

In a speech to 30 African heads of state yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to do more to support LGBT rights:

KI-MOON: Let me mention one form of discrimination that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  This has prompted some governments to treat people as second-class citizens, or even criminals. Confronting this discrimination is a challenge.  But we must live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights].

Ki-Moon’s remarks reflect last month’s report from the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission about the importance of decriminalizing homosexuality and protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also recently called on nations to treat “gay rights as human rights” and end all forms of persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Many African countries with anti-gay laws have rebuffed efforts by the U.S. and Britain to improve their policies, defending the role of religion in their societies and decrying gay rights as a “Western invention.”