An historic session on gay rights at
the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva was marred
Wednesday by a walkout.
The panel discussion was opened with a
video address from the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
“To those who are gay, lesbian,
bisexual or transgender, let me say: You are not alone,” the
secretary-general said. “Your struggle for an end to violence and
discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you is an attack
on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to
uphold. Today, I stand with you and I call upon all countries and
people to stand with you, too. A historic shift is underway. More
states see the gravity of the problem. … We must tackle the
violence, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, ban
discrimination and educate the public.” (The video is embedded in
the right panel of this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi
Pillay in her opening statement urged countries to dedicate
themselves to ending violence and discrimination against people,
irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The
panel convened to consider Pillay's
report documenting discriminatory laws and acts of violence against
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Seventy-six of the UN's 192 member
countries criminalize gay sex and in at least five countries
offenders could be put to death.
According to Radio Free Europe,
Pakistan's Saeed Sarwar rejected gay rights.
“Licentious behavior promoted under
the so-called concept of sexual orientation is against the
fundamental teachings of various religions, including Islam,”
Sarwar said. “From this perspective, legitimizing homosexuality
and other personal sexual behaviors in the name of sexual orientation
Most Arab and African nations walked
out of the session after Sawar urged the council not to revisit the
subject in the future.