|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Culture, Religion, Tradition Can Never Justify Denial of Rights, Secretary-General
Stresses in Message to Conference on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message to the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, in Oslo on 15-16 April:
Your Excellency, Espen Barth Eide, Foreign Minister of Norway, Your Excellency, Minister for Women’s Rights of the French Republic, [Najat] Vallaud-Belkacem, Excellencies, distinguished friends,
I am pleased to greet the participants in this important Conference.
We should all be outraged when people suffer discrimination, assault and even murder simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We should all speak out when someone is arrested and imprisoned because of who they love or how they look. This is one of the great neglected human rights challenges of our time. We must right these wrongs.
Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone. But far too many still refuse to acknowledge the injustice of homophobic violence and discrimination. We need to document this problem and share information with States on a regular basis for discussion and action.
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.
My promise to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the human family is this: I am with you. I promise that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will denounce attacks against you and I will keep pressing leaders for progress.
I am committed to leading a global campaign in partnership with the United Nations human rights office. I count on others to join us.
Together, we can make the world safer, freer and more equal for everyone.
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