In an address to members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned discrimination and attacks against LGBT people.

“We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,” Ban said. “We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.”

The run-up to Friday's opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi has been marred by Russia's “gay propaganda” law, which prohibits the promotion of gay rights in public spaces.

“The Olympics show the power of sport to bring together individuals regardless of age, race, class, religion, ability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ban added.

Ban also took part in the Olympic torch relay.

Ban's remarks come on the same day that Dmitry Kozak, Russia's deputy prime minister, asked gay visitors and athletes attending the Sochi Games to “leave the kids alone.”

(Related: Russian deputy PM: Gays must “leave the kids alone.”)