The United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people on Friday in a cautiously worded declaration hailed by supporters including the United States as a historic moment.

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UN approves Ban Ki-moon

The UN Security Council approved Friday a second five-year term for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a critical last step before the 192-member General Assembly holds the definitive vote next week. The vote by acclamation came after a one-day delay due to what UN diplomats described as procedural and technical hold ups from some Latin American countries. The entire world body is virtually certain to endorse Ban, 67, when it considers the matter Tuesday. There are no other candidates.

Members of the UN Human Rights Council narrowly voted in favour of the resolution put forward by South Africa, against strong opposition from African and Islamic countries.

"You just witnessed a historic moment at the Human Rights Council and within the UN system with a landmark resolution protecting human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people," U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters after the vote.

Couched in delicate diplomatic language, the resolution commissions a study of discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, the findings of which will be discussed by the Geneva-based council at a later meeting.

The proposal went too far for many of the council's 47-member states, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan. Representatives of those countries said gay rights had nothing to do with human rights.