Singer Elton John on Wednesday urged the international community to include all sexual orientations in the fight against AIDS, warning that, otherwise, the UN campaign to end the disease by 2030 "will be a disaster."
Homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, "you leave no one behind," he said at an AIDS conference in the South African city of Durban.
The conference, which continues until Friday, brings together 18,000 experts from 180 countries.
"In the '60s in England, you were prosecuted for being homosexual," recalled the artist, whose AIDS foundation is launching a new initiative in support of sexual minorities in Africa.
"It's a start, but we will follow through until there is no more stigma, no more hatred," he said.
Homosexuality is illegal in more than two thirds of Africa's 54 nations, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Sudan, Nigeria and Mauritania even allow the death penalty for homosexuality.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates called for more resources for HIV prevention, treatment and research, warning that new infections could reach record levels among young Africans.
"It won't be enough just to keep doing what we are already doing," Gates said at the conference.
Despite "a few governments who have to be applauded for their generosity," it is getting difficult to keep financial contributions to support the fight against HIV at their current level, Gates said.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the disease caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), kills roughly 1.1 million people annually. The majority of deaths occur in Africa.