African Leaders Reject U.N. Call For Homosexual Equality

By Patrick Burke | February 20, 2012 | 6:54pm EST

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (AP Photo/Jon Black)

( -- Leaders and government officials of at least four African states publicly resisted United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s recent call for an end to social and legal discrimination against homosexuals in Africa.

In remarks to the Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Jan. 29, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addressed the issue of homosexuality in Africa, saying, “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,” he said, in reference to the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Last week at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Switzerland,  Libya’s envoy to the U.N., Ibrahim Dabbashi,  said that issues concerning homosexuality “affect religion and the continuation and reproduction of the human race,” reported the Geneva-based U.N. Watch. Dabbashi also criticized a U.N. pro-homosexual resolution, passed in June 2011, saying Libya would have opposed it had it not, at the time, been suspended from the Council.

U.N. Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre responded to the Libyan delegate’s comments by stating, “the Human Rights Council is here to defend human rights and prevent discrimination.”

According to foreign media news reports, such as West Africa Democracy Radio, there are some African leaders, including President John Atta Mills of Ghana, who do not share the same view as the U.N. secretary general.

“We have made our position well known. Ghanaian society frowns upon homosexuality and everybody has been telling us that democracy means governance for the people, by the people in the interest of the people,” Mills told Ghanian journalists in response Secretary Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks.

(AP Photo)

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s press secretary issued a statement saying she would veto legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Liberians should hold this government by her word. This president will not sign into law anything called same-sex marriage. This government opposes gay rights. In fact, government will not compromise its religious belief for any (foreign) aid,” said Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah.

Similarly, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia reaffirmed that he would never accept homosexual practices in his country, according to a South African news service, saying it was destructive to Gambian culture.

In recent months, the issue of homosexuality has become increasingly prevalent in African politics and has contributed to the shaping of relations between Africa and Western powers. In a speech last month to diplomats at the United Nations in Geneva, Secretary Hillary Clinton advocated for gay rights overseas, saying that “gay rights are human rights.”

Additionally, UK officials, such as Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hagu,e have threatened to hold foreign aid from nations that do not give equal rights and respect to homosexuals.

“Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights. We are saying that is one of the things that determines our aid policy, and there have been particularly bad examples where we have taken action,” said Cameron in an interview last October.

According to the research group Public Agenda, homosexual practices among men are illegal in 14 African states.

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