The head of the United Nations has spoken out against discrimination towards LGBT people.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared at the United Nations’ first ever high-level meeting on LGBT rights this week, where he said it was an “outrage” that so many still face prejudice for who they are.
He said: “Every year, hundreds are killed, thousands are badly hurt, and millions live their lives under a shadow of discrimination and disapproval. That is an outrage.
“Many Governments refuse to acknowledge human rights abuses against LGBT people – or accept responsibility for ending them. Several countries are bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay – or even just talking about being gay.
“I especially worry for children and youth who are bullied at school, thrown out of their homes or living on the streets. These abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people.”
While Ban admitted that he didn’t know much about the discrimination faced by LGBT community when he first joined the United Nations, he said he eventually “learned by listening”.
He continued: “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?
“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.”
Dozens of world leaders were also in attendance, including US Vice President Joe Biden who gave a speech where he called LGBT rights “the civil rights issue of our time”.
After singling out Egypt, Russia and Uganda for their extreme anti-LGBT laws, he said: “No government, no society, no individual, no circumstance should attempt to dictate who you love.
“A gay couple can get married today and fired in the afternoon. The Orlando shooting this summer showed us that LGBT people are still targeted in the U.S.—as they are throughout the world.”
Earlier this week, President Obama used his final UN speech to address anti-LGBT violence, arguing: “If we jail or beat people who are gay […] then the fragile bonds of civilisation will fray.”
Watch footage from the meeting below.