This week, South Africa and Norway cohosted the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Oslo, which was designed to follow through on the United Nations’ resolution to support LGBT human rights. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon submitted a video message to the conference, pointing out that culture, tradition, and religion cannot justify the denial of human rights:
BAN: We must institutionalize our efforts to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We need public education to change popular attitudes.
Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo. Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation.
I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.
Ban has previously decried anti-LGBT violence as a “monumental tragedy,” calling on African leaders in particular to end the criminalization of homosexuality and the ongoing persecution of LGBT people.