Ban Ki-moon, Navi Pillay, Desmond Tutu & Civil Society call for an End to LGBT Criminalisation & Violence

Published: September 17, 2010

"At a high level event at the United Nations in Geneva today, a panel of experts stressed the need to end violence and criminal sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a special message of support to the event. The Secretary General reminded States that ‘human rights make up one of the three pillars of the United Nations, alongside development and peace and security’, and underlined

“Laws criminalizing people on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity violate the principle of non-discrimination. They also fuel violence, help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate. … [c]ultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights. The responsibilities of the United Nations and the obligations of States are clear. No-one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No-one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No-one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

The Secretary General’s message was read by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, who detailed the international obligations to end human violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity:

"It can never be acceptable to deprive certain individuals of their rights, indeed to impose criminal sanctions on those individuals … simply for being who they are, for being born with a particular sexual orientation or gender identity. … Our first priority should be decriminalization worldwide."

In addition, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, addressed participants by video message. He underlined the human rights violations experienced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, noting “Gay men have been jailed and humiliated, transgender people attacked, lesbians raped. … This wave of hate must stop.”

Archbishop Tutu concluded with a strong message to the United Nations:

"You, at the United Nations, have a particular role to play. You have a responsibility. Whenever one group of human beings is treated as inferior to another, hatred and intolerance will triumph. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people … they look to you for recognition of their right to equal dignity and respect. Do not fail them."

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