Protesters ambushed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as he spoke in San Fransisco last night, demanding he break the UN’s silence on lesbian, gay and bisexual rights around the world.
Standing on their seats, the protesters, holding a sign reading ‘Gay rights are UNiversal’ chanted: “Break the silence, talk about gays.”
The activists, Michael Petrelis and Hank Wilson, staged the protest as the United Nations chief spoke to the World Affairs Council of Northern California, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
The city is considered the birthplace of the United Nations.
Ban replied: “This is a most unusual welcome for me.”
“As Secretary General, I’m supposed to answer all questions.
“The gay rights issue is very sensitive.”
The protest marked the beginning of a series of demonstrations. August 3rd and 4th have been designated “global days of gay solidarity,” with protests planned around the world.
“In the last year alone, our brothers and sisters have been maimed and slaughtered in too many incidents around the world,” said Wilson.
“This includes the violent attacks on Eastern European pride marches; the killings of Jamaican gays; and the ongoing executions in Iran.
“The United Nations never fails to speak out against injustice and human rights violations as they happen, but they are criminally silent when it comes to the murders of lesbians and gay men.”
In a move towards progress, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted to accredit two gay rights organisations last week.
Delegates came down in favour of allowing the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) consultative status.
ECOSOC accreditation governs whether NGOs can attend UN meetings, submit written statements, make oral interventions, host panels and get access to UN buildings.
The NGO committee had advised against admitting the gay groups.
In 2006 the German lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federation and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) were refused observer status at the United Nations.
Friday’s decision on the Quebecois and Swedish gay groups had been preceded by forceful lobbying campaigns from countries such as Egypt that do not consider LGBT persons to have legal rights.
Canada and other countries argued that LGBT people should be heard at the UN.