UN chief Ban, Pres. Obama defend LGBT rights worldwide
With the upcoming November 2016 general elections in the US, Obama’s speech was his last address before the United Nations General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Ban– who gave his address during a high-level side event of the UN’s LGBT Core Group– will be stepping down on December 31, 2016, the end of his second term as UN Secretary-General.
Obama’s final words on LGBT rights worldwide
The US President enumerated not only the global efforts of the US in tackling issues like terrorism and climate change, he also spoke about the rights of women, minorities, refugees, and the LGBT.
“In remote corners of the world, citizens are demanding respect for the dignity of all people no matter their gender, or race, or religion, or disability, or sexual orientation, and those who deny others dignity are subject to public reproach,” he said.
Though he believes that there must be respect for people’s traditions, he said “I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanize or dominate another group.”
“If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith, if we jail or beat people who are gay, if our traditions lead us to prevent girls from going to school, if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilization will fray,” the US leader said.
“The world is too small, we are too packed together, for us to be able to resort to those old ways of thinking,” he added.
Ban’s address on LGBT rights worldwide
In the case of the UN Secretary-General, Ban admitted that when he assumed the position of UN chief, he didn’t know much about the status of the LGBT people.
But he said he learned by listening– and now he is championing their rights despite criticism from some of the member states.
“I ask those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights: what do you gain by making others less equal?” he asked.
“Is your religion or culture so weak that the only way you can sustain it is by denying others their basic rights? There is no room in our 21st century for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” he added.
“I will always fight for the equality of the LGBT members of our human family,” the UN chief declared, noting that: “This work will not leave me when I leave office – and it must not leave the office of the Secretary-General after I depart.”
Currently, there are 76 countries that have anti-homosexuality laws. Of this number, 49 percent are Christian-majority countries while 45 percent are Muslim-majority countries.