The Secretary General of the United Nations offered a pointed critique of laws that criminalize consensual sex between people of the same gender in a speech Tuesday, notably given in a nation that recently re-enacted its own ban on so-called homosexual sodomy.
"I staunchly oppose the criminalization of homosexuality,” said Ban Ki-Moon Tuesday in New Delhi, India, at an event marking the United Nations' 70th anniversary, reports the Washington Blade. "I speak out because laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination."
The Secretary General has long been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, calling on U.N. member nations to abandon antigay laws as early as 2010, and most recently introducing Austrian drag queen and Eurovision singing contest winner Conchita Wurst to the U.N. offices in Vienna last November.
"We have to fight for the equality of all members of our human family regardless of any difference, including sexual orientation," Ban said on Tuesday.
Although the secretary general did not directly address antigay laws in India, the country shocked its own LGBT citizens and people around the world when the high court in 2013 reinstated a colonial-era ban on sodomy. The law technically prohibits "Carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman, or animal," and provides prison sentences of up to 10 years for offenders.
The Supreme Court's decision overturned a landmark 2009 ruling from New Delhi's high court which initially struck down the 1861 ban, known as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The 2013 decision reinstating Section 377 sparked international protests, including what activists labeled a "Global Day of Rage," demanding that the national high court reconsider its decision. After a series of additional petitions, the Indian Supreme Court did agree to reconsider its ruling las April, though that re-hearing has yet to occur, meaning same-sex sexual activity is still technically illegal in India.