French President François Hollande yesterday called on the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide, joining France in that effort.
Hollande spoke before the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday and told the group that his country intended to be the leader in the global fight for "universal human freedoms":
France will continue to engage in all these struggles: for the abolition of the death penalty, for women's rights to equality and dignity, for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, recognized as a [sexual] orientation.
Hollande's speech touched on an issue rarely discussed among the U.N., and Hollande's appeal marks the first time a head of state has spoken out about homosexuality at the General Assembly. In many areas of the world, homosexuality is still considered illegal, with punishments ranging from prison to death.
France has traditionally been known to be liberal on LGBT rights. Gay and lesbian individuals are allowed to serve openly in the military, and transsexual individuals are allowed to change their legal sex. Same-sex marriage, however, is not recognized in the country. But Reuters reported in June that under France's new Socialist government, same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples could become legal.