French President François Hollande made a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week calling on the UN to reject the criminalisation of homosexuality around the world.

Hollande said that France would lead the way in the 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 decriminalisation of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, recognised as a [sexual] orientation,” he said.

“All member countries have the obligation to guarantee the security of their citizens, and if one nation adheres to this obligation, it is then imperative that we, the United Nations, facilitate the necessary means to make that guarantee.

“These are the issues that France will lead and defend in the United Nations. I say this with seriousness. When there is paralysis… and inaction, then injustice and intolerance can find their place.”

The United States, as well as China, Russia, the Roman Catholic Church and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, refused to support the measure, according to The New York Times.

The French government previously promised to legalise gay marriage by as early as 2013 with the introduction of legislation next month.

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