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Among the dignitaries throwing their support behind "Free & Equal" was retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who in the 1980s was a prominent leader of the struggle to end South Africa's apartheid system of racial segregation and white-minority rule.
"I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven ... I mean I would much rather go to the other place," Tutu said at Friday's news conference. "I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin recently signed a law that will impose hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors. In Haiti, gay-rights leaders say their community has been targeted by a recent series of threats. In Montenegro, several hundred people on Wednesday attacked the Balkan nation's first-ever gay pride rally, throwing rocks and bottles at activists while some yelled, "Kill the gays."
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights — no exceptions, no one left behind," Pillay said. "Yet it's still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis."
Desmond Tutu and the UN trying to force approval on the whole world now.
Trying to force approval on the whole world.
There were multiple reasons for choosing South Africa as the news conference venue. It is Pillay's home country, and is a leading nation on a continent where discrimination and violence against LGBT people is widespread.
In Cameroon, for example, two men were sentenced to prison this week for gay sex, and a gay rights activist was tortured and killed earlier this month in an attack his friends suspect was related to his activism. South Africa, in contrast, does not criminalize homosexuality and allows same-sex marriage, yet is plagued by extensive anti-gay violence, including frequent rapes of lesbians.