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20 Sep 2010

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges repeal of anti-gay law

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on countries to abolish laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians during a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council. 

Top United Nations officials today appealed to all countries that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to reform such laws and to ensure the protection of basic human rights for all.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“No doubt deeply-rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 

In a message to a panel discussion in Geneva on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was delivered by UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, Mr. Ban noted that the responsibilities of the UN 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.” 

In May, during a visit to Malawi, the Secretary-General called for laws criminalizing people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to be reformed worldwide. Such laws, he noted, fuel violence, help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate.

While in Malawi, he had also lauded the “courageous” decision by the country’s leader to pardon a gay couple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison, voicing hope that the African nation will update its laws to reflect international standards. 

Ms. Pillay noted in her own remarks that, despite significant progress made in a number of States, there is still no region in the world today where people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender or intersex (LGBTI) can live entirely free from discrimination or from the threat of harassment and physical attack.

“But in 78 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she told the event, which was held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“We should be looking for ways to ensure that everyone enjoys the full protection of international human rights law, not for grounds to justify excluding certain individuals.”

She said the first priority should be decriminalization worldwide, which should be accompanied by greater efforts to counter discrimination and homophobia, including both legislative and educational initiatives.

“If we are all entitled to the full range of human rights and to equal protection of the law then, I believe, it can never be acceptable to deprive certain individuals of their rights, indeed to impose criminal sanctions on those individuals, not because they have inflicted harm on others or pose a threat to the well-being of others, but simply for being who they are, for being born with a particular sexual orientation or gender identity.

“To do so is deliberately to exclude a whole lot of people from the protection of international human rights law. It is, in short, an affront to the very principles of human rights and non-discrimination,” she stated.

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-09-20 20:53  
hehe I am from same high school as Ban Ki-moon. so proud of him!
2. 2010-09-20 21:00  
he's from korea kkkkkkkkkkkk
3. 2010-09-20 21:13  
so what if he says something, who listen?
4. 2010-09-20 22:34  
I think many people will listen, at least educated people will listen. Unfortunately, we still have to reach the ignorant people of the world, who far out-number the educated. It is a step in the path, but a very significant step. Koreans are rightly proud of Mr. Ban.
5. 2010-09-20 23:56  
Hello Mr. Ban, I think you should know about korean law for gay and lesbian first. The law for anti-discrimination in Korean doesn't any saying about gay and lesbian. Government take it out from the law, they think homosexuality is out of scope to discuss. Do you know, Korea is your country. what a shameful? Change your country first. Mr. Ban.
6. 2010-09-21 00:46  
Change one's mind set is not an easy task, I try to change mine, but failed most of the time, then...

I found myself an excuse....I m who I m...hehe
7. 2010-09-21 00:49  
Change one's mind set is not an easy task, I try to change mine, but failed most of the time, then...

I found myself an excuse....I m who I m...hehe
8. 2010-09-21 01:54  
We should not judge individuals by their cultural background. In every country there are enlightened people with courage who rise above the narrow judgmentalism of their cultures. So is it with Ban Ki-moon.
For openly gay and closeted people around the world and especially for South Koreans (many of whom have an unfairly tough time about being gay) the leadership and courage of the Secretary General is a landmark moment.
9. 2010-09-21 02:32  
Speaking out for human rights is like dropping pebbles in a pond: enough pebbles dropped over enough time will result in them breaking the surface eventually. It may seem like a slow process but just look at what has happened in Western countries in only 30 years in regards to LGBT and 2 spirited youth: speaking out and acting up made a difference.
10. 2010-09-21 04:19  
When supposedly free countries such as the USA still discriminate against gays, why should we expect any better from africa?
11. 2010-09-21 06:41  
The Secretary-General's remarks are commendable. However they were a reaction to the recent atrocities in African countries. Mr. Moon's home country has no laws against homosexuals but it seems many Koreans prefer to assume that there are no homosexuals in their country. Attempts to make gay people more visible and acceptable have been met with hostility. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_South_Korea
12. 2010-09-21 07:01  
This is a sick world, as an ex soldier, apparently it is acceptable to take a rifle and shoot another man dead in the name of war but if you declare your love for another man that is a crime! The holy books say "thou shalt not kill" NOt "thou shalt not love" and also in a very over populated world that can't sustain 6 billion plus and growing, gay people who don't produce ofspring should be welcomed. Religious biggotry has a lot to answer for. If God made all of us he made me also and he made me gay so I could show love to other men rather than hate.
13. 2010-09-21 09:21  
Wow. Stefan, very well said.

By the way, it's pleasing to see that an Asian man like Moon is standing up for what is right and I assume it's not easy for him.
14. 2010-09-21 09:53  
Yes, great to see an Asian leader speaking up. However I wonder how widely this has been reported in the Asian (and African!) press. A lot of people forget that one of the first Secretaries General of the UN was gay (Dag Hammarskjöld).
Well done Mr Ban!
15. 2010-09-21 10:41  
Great effort. Happy to see influential leader is speaking for us.

“No one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Love this statement and I hope more and more people can uphold this thinking.

16. 2010-09-21 11:51  
coming from someone korean, and also coming from a different generation, its very refreshing to hear some good thoughts coming from a man who grew up in a very conservative society.
17. 2010-09-21 12:27  
definitely a step in the right direction !
18. 2010-09-21 16:10  
who's holy book, not my bloody holy book I throw them in the bin if they turn up in my house.
One must be thankful for the many non gay men and woman in the world who advocate on our behalf, there is a slowly moving momentum happening it has been moving forward for decades now and more countries now enjoy freedoms not quite imagined 30- 40- 50 yrs ago but there you are they arrived, of course how WE in the 'free west' as individuals behave reflects on the collective how we project our selves will have a marked effect on that slowing or speeding of Democratic reform for others, embracing the 'queering' agenda of the flippant philosophically flawed ghetto minded oh so last century extreme left will of course slow the momentum not speed it, by being more wholistically integrated thoughtful and of course sexually responsible will have alot of impact in the future, if not well we must take responsibility for GAY people continueing to suffer oppression if western GAYS continue to create a perception we're all skanky queers, we can help UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by being considered decent GAY people projecting an image into the world that no one can legitimately argue against.
Comment edited on 2010-09-21 16:12:31
19. 2010-09-21 17:27  
Slowly but surely, transformation is taking place, one person at a time, one voice at a time, one moment at a time... A result of our collectively daily action. Thanks to all participants!
20. 2010-09-21 18:00  
well said!!
21. 2010-09-21 19:46  
A very significant statement. It might not yield immediately, but at least it is something. I could foresee that there are many people out there are going to go against his statement. The saddest part is even LGBT people are having cold feet and being contented to stay in the closet. In addition, they give out negative statements which are redundant. Not contributing in establishing a better place for LGBT is already bad, they even want to critisize people who voice out for them, that's even worse.
Comment #22 was deleted by its author on 2010-09-21 23:43
23. 2010-09-22 02:21  
From the US government Web site (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/09/147449.htm):

The United States joined Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, East Timor, Finland, France, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Slovenia in sponsoring a high-level panel discussion “Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions on the Basis of Sexual Orientation” on September 17 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

With messages of support from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, the panel discussion focused the international community on the urgent need to end the criminalization of people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We applaud the courage of the human rights defenders who addressed the audience and urge member states of the United Nations to act and support efforts to end the criminalization of people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
24. 2010-09-22 04:15  
proud to be a korean
25. 2010-09-22 06:20  
He's making epic steps, despite the bigotry still in his own country and around the world - including much of the United States (which by the way has a swing towards radical conservatism right now as a reaction to the current administration).

Thanks Ban Ki Moon - awesome job. =)

By the way, does anyone have a Korean translation of this article? I want to send it over some older relatives.
26. 2010-09-22 07:19  
I think it is time for Korean society to accept the love between the same sex as I watched pretty popular TV show telling stories of two men love each other and coming out to their family. Well you know Koreans can be very supportive of good looking men and being gay won't hurt as long as they have the looks department going haha. We had first public figure came out to public 10 years ago. he had really tough time and his not so amazing look didn't help either which is sad cause it makes me think that Koreans can be double standard.

Anyway I'm so glad that we are making some positive progress and hope one day we can see all the LGBT live their happy life regardless where they make their living.

27. 2010-09-22 08:37  
We should feel proud of Ban Ki Moon as UN Chef to represent the voice of United Nations. His nationality is not an issue here. He has done a wonderful job.
Comment #28 was deleted by its author on 2010-09-22 15:47
29. 2010-09-22 15:44  
"Now, as Secretary-General, it will not be appropriate at this time to talk about my own belief in any particular religion or God".
Ban Ki-moon to a journalist after his nomination as UN chief.

His views on homosexuality seem to be free of religious prejudices: that's a good start.
30. 2010-09-22 15:46  
In this globalised economy, I think it's more effective if it's a trade organisation like the WTO, an international financier like IMF & World Bank or even MNCs that makes such a call rather than just the UN. If repeal of such anti-human rights laws is made a criterion for membership or investment, then nations--and especially non-Islamic nations such as Singapore--- would be even more eager to repeal such laws.

As such, while the gay activists' success with lobbying the UN is commendable, I thought we should also work on the MNCs, banks and trade bodies. The head offices of MNCs should be urged to sign a commitment to adopt non-discriminatory hiring practices and to discriminate against those anti-human rights countries when it comes to foreign investments. If more MNCs join this campaign, the mainly-developing nations which still keep anti-gay laws would give in sooner or later, because they need to attract more foreign investments in order to create more jobs for their people and more sources of 'alternative income' for their politicians.

Islamic nations like Malaysia should also consider keeping anti-gay laws only in its Islamic Court and repeal them in their secular court. Those who voluntarily proclaim themselves devoted Muslims should be respected and allowed to abide by the Islamic Court's set of laws, without imposing the same moral standards on the others who aren't Muslims or have renounced the Islamic faith. Having a dual court system is a pragmatic resolution in those multi-faith and multi-racial Islamic countries with a significant number of Muslims who still wish to preserve their religious doctrine.
31. 2010-09-25 07:12  
Religion faith is an individual choice in the most part of the world but not in certain countries. For example, Malaysia. Do Malay have freedom to decide whether they want to embrace Islam or not? Here you go, how many of them don't want but what choice do they have? There was at once, Canadian Muslims wanted to have Islamic Court here. Oh, mother fucker, lucky it failed to get it through in the court. We are a totally free democratic country, why we need different legal system in Canada? If the court allowed, we are going to have Christian court, Buddhism court, Jewish court and so on. Back to the issue, how many religions do Malaysians have? Perhaps less than 10% of our religions here only. Even significant number of muslims are willing to use Islamic court, there are still many of them hate the religion without any choice that force by Malaysian laws imposing on them for THEIR POLITICAL GAINS.

Clearly to say that If you want to be a gay, forget about religion if you want to really feel free. Buddhism is one of the best ones since it is less focus on gay issue. I am a free thinker but I do respect all religions. Religion is compassion and love. Stop bringing other fucking thinking into our bedroom life.
32. 2010-10-13 02:12  
#31 Kazukicanade: Very true...though I have a slight disagreement abt religion being 'compassion & love'- look throughout history, even today....what's religion good for? Division, control & delusion of the people, usually along the lines of race/ethnicity/sexuality/class system....that's the reason the ruling classes find it so useful!!

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