At the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Oslo, Norway, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reaffirmed his and the UN’s commitment to global LGBT rights:
“I am pleased to greet the participants in this important conference. We should all be outraged when people suffer discrimination, assault, and even murder, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We should all speak out when someone is arrested and imprisoned because of who they love, or how they look. This is one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time.
“We must right these wrongs. Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone, but far too many still refuse to acknowledge the injustice of homophobic violence and discrimination. We need to document this problem and share information with the states on a regular basis for discussion and action. We must institutionalize our efforts to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We need public education to change popular attitudes.
“Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo. Such arguments have been used to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion, but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.
“My promise to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the human family is this; I’m with you. I promise that, as the Secretary General of the United Nations, I will denounce attacks against you, and I will keep pressing leaders for progress. I am committed to leading a global campaign in partnership with the United Nations Human Rights Office. I count on others to join us. Together we can make the world safer, freer, and more equal for everyone.”