U.N. rights forum proclaims equal gay rights, Muslims states object
The top U.N. human rights body declared Friday there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation, a vote Western countries called historic but Islamic states firmly rejected. The controversial resolution marked the first time that the Human Rights Council recognized the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, diplomats said.
The text, presented by South Africa, was adopted by 23 countries in favour, 19 against with 3 abstentions and one delegation absent during voting. Libya’s membership in the 47-member Geneva forum was suspended in March.
“All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement issued in Washington. “Today’s landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal,” she said, calling it a “historic moment.”
Britain, France joined the United States in voting in favour, while Russia voted against and China abstained, results showed. Delegations from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Bangladesh took the floor to reject the text in a heated debate held on the last day of the council’s three-week session.
Mauritania’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Cheikh Ahmed Ould Zahaf, said that the issue did not fall within the scope of any international human rights treaty. “This issue has nothing to do with human rights,” he said, speaking before the vote. “What we find here is an attempt to change the natural right of a human being with an unnatural right. That is why calls on all members to vote against it.”