(BOSTONGLOBE) — ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that African nations should stop treating gays as “second-class citizens or even criminals.’’

Ban told African leaders who gathered in Ethiopia’s capital for an African Union summit that discrimination based on sexual orientation “had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long.’’

Ban said it would be challenging for Africa to confront this discrimination. There was no immediate response from African heads of states to Ban’s speech. Many African countries outlaw homosexuality, and many African churches preach against it.

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