Gay NBA player Jason Collins has said in a video for the United Nations that it is “absolutely insane” that being gay is still criminalised in some countries.

The basketball player, who came out in April last year, was taking part in the United Nations ‘Free & Equal’ video campaign.

He said: “In some countries it’s illegal to be gay, which is ridiculous and from my standpoint it’s absolutely insane to crimilaise someone for being who they are with regards to sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It’s on the same level for me as discriminating against someone because of race.

“For me it’s very important to come to the United Nations, and take part, in something that’s going to lead where all of us can be free and equal.”

According to the UN, he will be joined over the coming weeks by figures including tennis star Martina Navratilova, Bollywood actors Imran Khan and Celina Jaitly, and intersex rights activist Hida Viloria.

UN human rights spokesperson Charles Radcliffe said: “Ban Ki-moon recently described sports stars who speak out against discrimination as ‘heroes to the United Nations’.

“Well, Jason is just such a hero. His decision to talk publicly about being gay sends a powerful, positive message to sport fans and people around the world — including many young people coming to terms with their own sexuality.

“We are thrilled to have his support for the UN’s Free & Equal campaign.”

Ugandan minister Samuel Kutesa, who backed his country’s anti-gay law, was this month unanimously elected as the head of the UN’s General Assembly.

Collins was recently named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people. In March, he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets for the remainder of the season.