The United Nations' plea to end the practice of criminalizing being gay was heard this week in the Caribbean, reports the Spanish news agency EFE.

On Thursday, the U.N. special envoy on HIV/AIDS told a multifaith gathering in Georgetown that Caribbean governments need to repeal laws against being gay.

“I believe that the existence of these laws contribute to infected and potentially infected men not coming forward to be tested, and I believe and I will propose that such laws be revised,” Sir George Alleyne said.

But Alleyne admitted that few Caribbean politicians were willing to tackle the issue of homophobia, which he called one of the “most egregious manifestations of stigma and discrimination.”

Officials in the region called the subject a “political mine-field.”

Vatican officials have been critical of a U.N. Resolution – introduced by French officials – that calls for the universal decriminalization of being gay. Church officials said they feared the resolution would promote gay marriage.

The agency has issued a similar plea to India where a court there is looking at the issue.

More than 80 countries have laws against homosexuality, including nine that prescribe death as punishment.

“While we have made certain types of social advances in the region, this is an area where many governments have indicated that their citizens are not quite at a position where they can endorse some of the kinds of broad-based legislation which has been endorsed in Europe and other places,” the Caribbean Community's program manager for Health Sector Development, Dr. Rudolph Cummings, said at a subsequent news conference.