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France wants UN to decriminalise homosexuality

Latest update : 2008-05-17

France plans to ask the United Nations to push for the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality, a government minister said Saturday, marking the fourth, annual International Day Against Homophobia.

France plans to ask the United Nations to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised around the globe, a government minister said Saturday, as gays and lesbians worldwide marked the International Day Against Homophobia.

Human Rights Minister Rama Yade told a delegation of French gay and lesbian groups that Paris would push for "a European initiative calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality," according to a statement.

She said Paris would submit the initiative to the United Nations after it takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency in July -- a period during which France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly.

Rights groups regularly campaign for Western governments not to deport gays or lesbians back to countries where they are at risk of persecution.

Homosexuality remains a crime in 75 countries worldwide, punishable in theory by death in Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Human Rights Watch issued an annual blacklist Friday singling out President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, where homosexuality is punishable by life imprisonment, for ignoring a major campaign to end the harassment of gays.

It also accused Polish President Lech Kaczynski of attempting to "deny basic rights" to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people following a televised speech in which he assailed homosexuality in March.

Human Rights Watch took Britain to task as well over the case of a gay Iranian who was denied asylum last year although he said he feared death if forced to return home.

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, said he discovered while in England that his boyfriend had been arrested in Iran, charged with sodomy and hanged. Under international pressure to reverse their decision, British authorities have since granted him a reprieve from deportation.

The International Day Against Homophobia was launched in 2005 to commemorate the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of disorders.

Date created : 2008-05-17