UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged African leaders to respect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Speaking at the opening of the 18th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ban told leaders:
'One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
'It prompted governments to treat people as second class citizens or even criminals.'
Ban continued: 'Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration of human rights.'
Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries, with Uganda making the headlines several times due to their strong anti-gay sentiments.
In 2010 a Ugandan newspaper published pictures of the nations 'top' gay men and women accompanied by a headline demanding that all homosexuals should be hanged.
Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which imposes stiff punishment on people caught in homosexual acts, has received sharp criticism from global leaders and the media. Former South African president Mbeki recently spoke out against the bill saying 'it doesn't make sense at all' while British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will consider witholding aid going to African countries which violate the rights of LGBT people.