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UN chief tells world: Scrap your anti-gay laws

Ban Ki-moon speech delivered at The Hague as part of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

UN chief tells world: Scrap your anti-gay laws

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said ending homophobia is ‘critical’ to the UN’s work and called for an end to anti-gay laws and better education.

His comments were delivered today (17 May) at an event in The Hague, The Netherlands, to mark International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

The speech was delivered on his behalf by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in the presence of the new Queen of the Netherlands, Máxima.

It comes in the same week that Ki-moon featured in a UN video telling gay and trans people they were not alone. The short film warned countries they were breaching international law by not protecting LGBT people.

In the new speech, he highlights the ‘terrible violence’ gay and trans people have endured.

And he says ‘draconian laws used to criminalize and punish LGBT people’ must be replaced by new anti-discrimination legislation.

He also highlights the need to educate the public to ‘challenge negative stereotypes and promote greater understanding’.

The IDAHO conference, which spans over two days, is one of Queen Máxima’s first public events.

It will focus on the 1.5 billion people who life in countries that criminalize same-sex relations.

IDAHO organizers said: ‘This means that 46 million people, the size of the population of Spain, are de facto outlawed and their loves lives made impossible.’

Ki-moon’s speech in full reads: ‘I am pleased to send greetings to this first International Forum organized by the Government of The Netherlands to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. I especially thank Her Majesty Queen Maxima of The Netherlands for supporting this important event.

‘The fight against homophobia is a core part of the broader battle for human rights for all. It sits alongside the long-standing work of the United Nations to eliminate racism and promote gender equality.

‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world that is free and equal, and we will only honor that promise if everyone – without exception – enjoys the protection they deserve.

‘For generations, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all regions have been subjected to terrible violence on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity. They have been treated with contempt, derision and discrimination. They have been made to feel anything but free and equal.

‘For far too long, their suffering was met with silence in the halls of power. As Secretary General, I am committed to raising my voice. Along with many committed partners, we are working to elevate this struggle and draw greater attention to the specific challenges facing the LGBT members of our human family. I appreciate all those who support this effort and call on others to engage.

‘We know what needs to be done. Draconian laws used to criminalize and punish LGBT people must be replaced by new laws that are in harmony with universal human rights conventions and protect everyone from discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘Public education is also essential to challenge negative stereotypes and promote greater understanding.

‘Ending homophobia is a matter of personal security, dignity and even survival for countless individuals. It is also a long-term endeavor – one that I believe is critical to the mission of the United Nations.

‘I thank you for your commitment to the cause and wish you fruitful discussions in the coming days. With the force of our conviction, let us continue working for a world of true freedom and equality for all.’

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