Buoyed by growing political acceptance of homosexuals worldwide, a United Nations group promoting “gay” and lesbian rights met in New York to sharpen a multi-pronged strategy that includes a “showdown with religion.”

The meeting was sponsored by the U.N. Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees, known as UNGLOBE, a group officially recognized by the worldwide body in 1996.

At a forum Monday, attended briefly by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, panel members singled out Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants as opponents, according to the New York-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

Speakers included U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who urged Congress to withhold support for a free trade agreement with Muslim-majority Egypt because of its treatment of homosexuals.

Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the San Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or IGLHRC, announced a coming “showdown with religion” and vowed Pope John Paul II’s “call to arms” against homosexual marriage would be successfully combated.

Another panel member, Princeton University professor Anthony Appiah, wondered whether or not religion should be limited, as it poses a “challenge” to the homosexual agenda.

To thunderous applause, Svend Robinson, a member of the Canadian parliament, told the Catholic Church to “clean up your own house” before criticizing the morality of homosexuals.

Robinson criticized Roman Catholic Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, calling his actions in defense of traditional marriage “unbelievable.”

The deputy mocked “born again” Christians, asking, “Did they have to come back again as themselves?”

As WorldNetDaily reported, Robinson is the sponsor of a bill that would add sexual orientation as a protected category in Canada’s genocide and hate crimes legislation. Opponents believe it would criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior, including making quotations from the Bible.

The U.N. group that hosted the event is pressing the United Nations to recognize same-sex couples and treat their partnerships as equal to traditional marriages.

Carol Bellamy, executive director of the U.N. Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, sent a message of support to the conference.

Annan told panel members the world should become “much more tolerant and compassionate.”

“I think what is important is that we should stress those positive aspects in our society, the things that bring us together, and move away from discrimination and persecution,” the secretary general said.

At a news conference last week, the Atlantic Monthly reported, Annan was asked to comment on the debate over what constitutes a family.

“I believe that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices and that we should be careful not to draw conclusions or adopt prejudicial attitudes towards people for their choices and preferences,” he said. “That’s not something I think this organization should get involved in.”

Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of the U.N. Development Program, sent a statement to the organizers, stating, “Discrimination based on sexual orientation not only violates basic human rights but also hinders development by immobilizing human capital, stifling expression and limiting freedom of choice.”

U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting

The panel discussed ways to ensure the success of a resolution introduced at this year’s U.N. Human Rights Commission to expand the world body’s definition of discrimination to include “sexual orientation.”

Robinson blamed the Vatican for the resolution’s failure and promised a global lobby effort to ensure victory next year.

This year’s resolution was sponsored by Brazil, but Robinson said a “different champion” will promote it next time.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lawmakers from around the world will meet in San Diego this fall to coordinate their efforts, he noted.

IGLHRC, the international group, distributed fliers at the meeting that listed laws it wants changed, including “sodomy, age of consent and other ‘sex-act’ laws, laws on prostitution, laws penalizing those wearing clothing of the opposite sex and laws on obscenity and pornography.”

The group also is lobbying against “denial of marriage to same sex partners, denial of marriage to transgendered people and laws on parenting and adoption.”

Related story:

Global ‘gay’ rights measure before U.N.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.