African leaders should respect the rights of LGBT people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday at the 18th African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," Ban told the summit. "It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals."
Homosexual acts are outlawed in most African countries, and LGBT-related discrimination is rife. Previous criticisms from outside the continent have been met by angry responses from African leaders, who claim that homosexuality is alien to their culture.
A bill reintroduced in Uganda's Parliament late last year would provide stiffer punishments, up the death penalty, for various LGBT-related offenses, including gay sex involving a person who has HIV.
"Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration" of human rights, Ban said.
"For as long as they are human beings we respect them but in terms of their practices and orientation we strongly condemn it," said Simon Lokodo, Uganda's Ethics and Integrity. "We condemn in all strongest forms anyone who promotes or propagates these practices."
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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