Last week on International Human Rights Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave a rousing speech calling for tolerance and an end to discriminatory laws. The excellent speech, in which the Secretary General calls for an end to laws that criminalize same-sex relationships, is available here and excerpted below.
As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out. We cannot stand by, silent.
In all these kinds of cases, I put myself on the line. I take pains to find the right balance between public and private diplomacy to reach difficult solutions. I will continue to do so. I will continue to speak out … at every opportunity, wherever I go. And I will do so because this is the right thing to do. Because this cause is just.
That is why this day … this very special day … means so much to me. Human Rights Day commemorates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not called the partial declaration of human rights. It is not the sometimes declaration of human rights.
It is the universal Declaration, guaranteeing all human beings their basic human rights … without exception.
People were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings.
The watchwords of civilization have always been tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.
That is why we are here today. And that is why we ask the nations and the peoples of the world to join us … To join us in common cause in the name of justice and a better life for all.