Ban praises work of defenders of gay and lesbian rights

An activist waves a rainbow flag, an international symbol for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Photo: Flickr/See-ming Lee

28 June 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed the work of gay and lesbian rights defenders all over the world, stressing that States have a legal obligation to stop violence and discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.

“No custom or tradition, no cultural values or religious beliefs, can justify depriving a human being of his or her human rights,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, to the Human Rights Film Festival in New York.

“Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is a human rights violation: a violation that States have a moral duty and a legal obligation to address,” Mr. Ban stressed.

The festival screened the American documentary film “Call me Kuchu,” which explores the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda, focusing in part on the murder of LGBT activist David Kato last year.

At the end of last year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published the first official UN report on rights abuses based on sexual orientation, revealing that there are currently 76 countries where individuals face criminal sanctions for engaging in private in consensual sexual relations with another adult of the same sex.

“As UN Secretary-General, I take every opportunity to push leaders to listen and to act, but I am conscious that the hardest work is done by local activists like those you will see in this film,” Mr. Ban told festival attendants.

“To them I want to say: You are an inspiration to me and to millions of people around the world. I am proud to join in this great human rights cause. However hard and however long it may take, I know that justice will prevail and that all people can enjoy the rights and dignity they deserve,” Mr. Ban added.


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