After weeks of intense negotiations, on Dec. 21st the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted a US-led amendment to reintroduce execution on the basis of sexual orientation to a contentious resolution about condemnable human rights violations.
The Assembly had previously adopted the resolution on Nov. 12th, in which a Benin-led committee had removed the mention of sexual orientation in a text outlining unjustifiable reasons for extra-judiciary summary executions which nations should not be allowed to use as bases for such executions. The removal of sexual orientation by the UN committee and the resolution’s subsequent passing yielded a global outcry from LGBT rights groups.
The US amendment was adopted by the General Assembly on Dec. 21st, with 93 member states voting in favour, 55 against, and 27 abstentions. The amended resolution was then adopted by 122 member states, with none opposed; the previous vote’s opponents were largely included in the 59 abstentions.
The 55 states opposed to the amendment were most of the member states which belong to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (Pakistan, Turkey, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Malaysia, etc.), in addition to human rights favourites China, and North Korea. In these 55 countries, homosexuality is still considered punishable by law, and in ten of them—namely, Saudi Arabia and Iran—the death penalty is still applied.
Countries Showed their True Colours
The mention of sexual orientation in the biannual resolution condemning summary executions has been part of the text since 1999. Last month, after Benin’s amendment was submitted on behalf of African countries to a third committee on human rights, the text had been diluted, replacing the specific reference to sexual orientation by the phrase “discriminatory motivations of any type.”
Supporters of this rewording claimed that it reinforced the main thrust of the resolution, during the plenary debate on the amended wording, the cat was out of the bag: members that backed the Benin proposal argued that sexual orientation was not included in the list of discriminatory violations according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, further claiming that the 1999 text interpolated new rights protecting LGBT people.
The representative from Zimbabwe went so far as to take up Dictator Robert Mugabé’s statement comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.
You can view the video of the UN meeting (around the 39th minute) at the link below. The Belgian and Finish representatives speak on behalf of the European Union and Nordic countries in the defence of LGBT rights: