UN Secretary General Tells African Nations to Stop Discriminating Against Homosexuals

Posted on | January 30, 2012 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D. |

Yesterday, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, was at the African Union Summit, and addressed the 54 African nations in attendance. His address urged countries to entrench civil, political and economic rights. During the address he told African nations to stop discriminating against homosexuals.

The majority of Eastern and Western African nations criminalize homosexual acts, some even prescribe the death penalty. Many of these laws post-date the colonial period and have been passed in the last ten years. Homosexual marriage and civil unions are not even contemplated in the horizon of possible legislation in the near future.

It is unclear from the Secretary General’s remarks what he means by discrimination. He may be referring to the rights of all human beings to be free from violence and discrimination, but he may be calling on governments to adopt the whole gamut of demands by the homosexual lobby: civil unions or marriage, de-criminalization etc…

Whatever he meant in his statement the Secretary General is out of line if he is suggesting that sovereign states do not have the authority to legislate on health and morals.

Ban Ki-moon joins the UK in pressuring Africans on this issue. In November last year David Cameron caused a stir among African leaders and the media when he said that the UK was working through the Commonwealth to pressure African nations on the issue. Cameron went as far as saying that Commonwealth aid would come with strings attached in the future.

Below is the statement from the Secretary General. The full version can be found here.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a promise to all people in all places at all times.

Let me mention one form of discrimination that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States for far too long … discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This has prompted some governments to treat people as second-class citizens, or even criminals.

Confronting this discrimination is a challenge. But we must live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration.



Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.


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