FaithWorld

U.N. restores gay reference to violence measure

December 22, 2010

united nations

(Photo: United Nations headquarters in New York, July 31, 2008/Brendan McDermid)

The United States has succeeded in getting the United Nations to restore a reference to killings due to sexual orientation that had been deleted from a resolution condemning unjustified executions.

Western delegations were disappointed last month when the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee approved an Arab and African proposal to cut the reference to slayings due to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

The 192-nation General Assembly approved on Tuesday a U.S. amendment to the resolution that restored the reference to sexual orientation with 93 votes in favor, 55 against and 27 abstentions. The amended resolution was then adopted with 122 yes votes, one against and 62 abstentions.

After ensuring that violence against gays would be back in the resolution by voting in favor its own amendment, Washington sent an ambiguous signal about its support for the overall declaration by joining 61 other nations in abstaining. It was not immediately clear why Washington withheld its support. The only country that voted against the resolution was Saudi Arabia.

The main opposition to the U.S. amendment came from Muslim and African nations, which had led the push to delete the reference to sexual preference from the resolution last month.

The General Assembly passes resolutions condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings every two years. The 2008 declaration had included an explicit reference to killings committed because of the victims’ sexual preferences.

In addition to slayings over sexual orientation, the resolution specifies many other types of violence — killings for racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons and killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups.

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