The British government has said that a statement to be read at the United Nations shows that the fight for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people is far from over.

More than 60 nations from across the world are supporting the statement, which will be read during today’s meeting of the UN General Assembly.

The statement does not create new rights and is not legally binding.

It builds on similar past initiatives, and will not be subject to a vote.

It affirms the principle of universality: that all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to equal dignity and respect.

No-one should be subject to violence, harassment, discrimination or abuse, solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Today’s statement serves as a reminder that the campaign for equal rights is far from over,” said Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in too many countries around the world are having their human rights abused.

“In eight countries same-sex relationships still carry a maximum sentence of death. In nine others the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

“The UK will continue to work towards ending the discrimination of LGBT people around the world. We welcome and support this EU statement.

“It highlights an issue which does not receive the attention it deserves within the international community. Too many governments find it threatening and inappropriate even to discuss the issue.”

The Organisation of The Islamic Conference and the Vatican have objected to the statement, which was a French initiative.

All 27 EU member states have backed it.