UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has told delegates at the opening of the 21st regular session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to put women’s rights and LGBT rights at the forefront of the UN’s human rights agenda.
‘I commend the progress made by the Council [in the last year],’ Ki-moon told delegates.
‘In particular, I welcome the groundbreaking, first-ever intergovernmental discussion, in March this year, on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.’
‘This should not be a one-time event. I urge you to deepen your engagement on this issue so that protection and dignity truly reach all members of the human family.’
Ki-moon was referring to a groundbreaking panel discussion on LGBT rights, the first of its kind at the UNHRC, which went ahead despite 17 of the 47 states on the council walking out of the discussions.
Ki-moon also stressed the importance of supporting women’s rights in fostering a global culture of human rights.
‘We must fight for the rights of women, including their reproductive rights and their political, social and economic empowerment,’ Ki-moon said.
‘Unleashing the power of women will usher in a new era of respect for human rights.’
Ki-moon listed LGBT rights and women’s rights among five ‘clear challenges’ that warranted delegates’ attention.
Ki-Moon’s speech to the UNHRC comes three months after he released a statement calling LGBT activists inspirational for a New York screening of a documentary about LGBT rights activists in Uganda.