“What do you gain by making others less equal?”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked that question Wednesday afternoon during a passionate address to heads of state on global LGBT rights.
The meeting included the leaders of 20 countries, as well as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Ban, who will leave his post as U.N. chief next year, decried the discrimination against LGBT people, particularly youth.
“I especially worry about children and youth who are bullied or thrown out onto the street,” Ban said. “There is no room in our 21st century for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Biden called LGBT rights “the civil rights issue of our time” and spoke of the battles that remain to be fought in the U.S.
“We still have a great deal to do. We have a long way to go,” he said. “A gay couple can get married today and fired in the afternoon. The Orlando shooting this summer showed us that LGBT people are still targeted in the U.S.—as they are throughout the world.”
Biden, who leaves office next year as well, reminisced about the first time he saw a gay couple kiss when he was a senior in high school—and what his father said to him.
“They love one another, Joe,” he said. “It’s simple.”