The secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. has told African leaders it is time for them to respect gay rights.

Speaking Sunday before the annual African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Ban said discrimination based on sexual orientation has prompted some governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals.

“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 ideas of the Universal Declaration.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, is “a promise to all people in all places at all times.”

Across the African continent, homosexuality is outlawed and discrimination against gays and lesbians can be found almost everywhere. South Africa is the only African nation where gay rights and same-sex marriage are officially recognized.

The U.N. leader, in his speech to the summit, also said African nations should accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which several African leaders have accused of bias.

The outgoing AU chairman, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, complained in his speech about what he called the “unjust and discriminatory actions” by international tribunals. voa

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