New York: Expressing distress over the discrimination meted out to lesbian and gay people, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked countries to repeal laws that criminalise same sex relationships.
In his message on 'International Day against Homophobia', Ban expressed support for UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillai's message that "we are all human and we all deserve the same rights."
Ban called on states to tackle violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, ban discrimination and educate the public, a spokesperson said in a statement.
The UN chief is distressed by the fact that LGBT people are discriminated against in the labour market, schools and healthcare and are abused and disowned by their own families, the statement added.
"He is outraged that they are singled out for physical attack, even murder," the spokesperson said.
"He (Ban) has called for a repeal of laws, now on the books in 76 countries, that criminalize loving relationships between people of the same sex."
Pillai also called for equality for the LGBT community and the repeal of discriminatory laws.
"When I raise these issues, some complain that I'm pushing for 'new rights' or 'special rights' for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But there is nothing new or special about the right to life and security of person, the right to freedom from discrimination," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.
"These and other rights are universal enshrined in international law but denied to many of our fellow human beings simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," she added.
While not an officially observed day, the International Day against Homophobia, observed on 17 May, has become an important day for millions of people around the world to remember the victims of homophobic violence and discrimination and to make the case for genuine equality for LGBT people.
According to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, close to 80 countries, territories and areas still have laws that criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.
"We cannot let these abuses stand. We know what needs to be done," Pillay said. "States must repeal discriminatory laws and ban discriminatory practices: punish violence and hatred? not love."
In March, the UN chief had told Geneva-based Human Rights Council that he had not grown up talking about these issues, but had learned to speak up "because lives are at stake."
The head of UNAIDS, the lead UN agency dealing with the global HIV/AIDS response, said the laws are serious barriers to an effective AIDS response and are driving LGBT people underground where they cannot access life-saving services.
"A society's value should not be based on money or power. It must be measured by the way it values people, regardless of their sexual orientation or social status. A prosperous society is one that ensures inclusiveness and respects all people," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said.
First Published: Friday, May 18, 2012, 00:45