UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Thursday praised [official statement, text] the work of human rights activists for the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people while calling for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The secretary-general's message was delivered during a Human Rights Film Festival Screening by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic. Ban stressed that violence and discrimination against LGBT people is a human rights violation that has to be stopped immediately. He announced that he and his office will push the leaders of the international community to address the issue, noting that they have a legal obligation to do so. Ban encouraged LGBT activists to continue their work and said the UN would support them:
To them I want to say: You are an inspiration to me and to millions of people around the world. I am proud to join in this great human rights cause. However hard and however long it may take, I know that justice will prevail and that all people can enjoy the rights and dignity they deserve.Ban noted that absolutely no one should be deprived of his or her basic human rights and that the UN is established upon such the principles of equality, freedom, tolerance and the inherent dignity of each individual.
Sexual orientation and LGBT rights are contentious issues in societies worldwide. In June, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Bulgarian Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva to denounce calls to violence by anti-gay groups in anticipation of a LGBT pride parade in Sofia, Bulgaria. During the same month, Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said [JURIST report] that the government was not discriminating based on sexual orientation. The statement came days after the government had announced [JURIST report] that it would ban at least 38 non-governmental organizations that are accused of recruiting children to homosexuality. Earlier that month, a prominent Russian gay rights activist filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) challenging a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. The ECHR ruled that a Moldova law banning gay groups from protesting in front of the country's parliament violated citizens' rights [JURIST report] to peacefully assemble and to be free from discrimination. Last month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released a report [JURIST report] concluding that in the US, incidents of hate-based murders against LGBT individuals increased in 2011.