A file photo of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: Reuters)
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Russia Blocks UN from Thanking Ban Ki-moon for Gay Rights Work

Russia prevented the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday from thanking outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon specifically for promoting gay rights during his decade in office, diplomats said.

The 15-member council met to pay tribute to Ban, who will step down later this month.

The United States and other members had wanted a council statement to read: “It is thanks to you, Mr Secretary-General, that women, young people, and the LGBT community have been heard and assisted, and today their voices sound louder and stronger in this headquarters and around the world.”

However, Russia objected, diplomats said. The 15-member council instead agreed to a statement that said because of Ban's human rights promotion "the most vulnerable or marginalised have been increasingly heard and assisted by the United Nations."

Ban has long advocated for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality but faced opposition from African, Arab and Muslim states as well as Russia and China.

In 2014, Ban said the UN would recognize all same-sex marriages of its staff. Russia, with the support of 43 states including Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria, unsuccessfully tried to overturn the move last year.

Being gay is a crime in at least 73 countries, the UN has said, and the issue of gay rights consistently sparks heated debate at the United Nations.