UNITED NATIONS — A group of 11 countries called on U.N. member states to repeal laws that discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people, in the world organization’s highest-level meeting on the issue ever.
“Those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender must enjoy the same human rights as everyone else,” said the declaration of the LGBT Core Group, which includes the United States, Japan, Israel and eight European and Latin American nations.
Called Free & Equal, it’s an unprecedented effort by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to change public attitudes around the world on issues that have bitterly divided the U.N.’s own member states.
“Advancing equality for LGBT persons isn’t just the right thing to do,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in his statement at the meeting. “It’s also fundamental to advancing democracy and human rights.”
In this video, Free & Equal captured statements by several attendees, who included the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kerry, and the Argentine, Brazilian, Croatian, Dutch and Norwegian foreign ministers, as well as senior officials from the European Union, Japan and New Zealand, and the directors of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The following day, Gambia president Yahya Jammeh used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to attack gays and lesbians, calling homosexuality one of the three “biggest threats to human existence.”