UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Monday’s opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s twenty-first session in Geneva saw UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlight the importance of LGBT equality.

In his opening address, Ban commended the groundbreaking first-ever intergovernmental discussion on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity that was held in March.

Despite some Arab and African countries walking out of the debate, the Human Rights Council affirmed the right to equality of LGBT people.

The debate was part of a process initiated by South Africa when it spearheaded a resolution opposing violence and discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation. 

“[The debate] should not be a one-time event,” said Ban. “I urge you to deepen your engagement on this issue so that protection and dignity truly reach all members of the human family.”

The subject of LGBT equality remains a contentious one in some countries, largely in the Middle East and Africa, that believe that homosexuality is alien to their cultures and traditions and that it is being imposed on them by the West.

The Secretary-General also called for the world to fight for the rights of women, including their reproductive rights and their political, social and economic empowerment.

“Unleashing the power of women will usher in a new era of respect for human rights,” he said.

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