UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Activists called on governments around the world to end homophobic bullying and violence, saying Thursday gay rights are human rights that must be respected by all.
Judy Shepard, the mother of a young man murdered in an anti-gay crime in the U.S. in 1998, told the United Nations gathering that people with different sexual identities and orientations are all human beings with similar aspirations.
Anti-gay violence "is hate, it's ignorance to single out a group of people," said Shepard, who with her husband founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation after their son was killed.
Rights activists from Lebanon, Nigeria and Thailand joined several senior U.N. officials on the panel organized by the Netherlands in advance of International Human Rights Day. Saturday marks the 63rd anniversary of the U.N.-sponsored International Declaration of Human Rights.
U.N. members, with their diverse religious and cultural sensibilities, are often deeply divided over the issue of gay rights.