Wednesday, December 22, 2010

UN Approves US-Led Campaign To Restore Reference To Sexual Orientation In Resolution Against Arbitrary Executions

Yesterday by a vote of 93 to 55 with 27 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly approved a United States sponsored move to restore a reference to sexual orientation in a resolution that condemns extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. Reuters reports that the resolution condemns killings for racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons and killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups. Similar resolutions in prior years also referred to sexual orientation, but this year a General Assembly committee approved a proposal by Arab and African nations to eliminate that reference. The United States led the effort to restore the reference. According to Politico, the U.S. though ended up abstaining when the overall resolution including the reference to sexual orientation was put to a vote. The U.S. action was for totally different reasons-- concern that the resolution obscures the relationship between international humanitarian law and human rights law.

After the U.N. vote approving the U.S. proposal, the White House issued a statement (full text) reading in part:
President Obama applauds those countries that supported the amendment offered by the United States to ensure that "sexual orientation" remains covered by the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary execution. Killing people because of their sexual orientation cannot be rationalized by diverse religious values or varying regional perspectives. Killing people because they are gay is not culturally defensible – it is criminal.

While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination. Protecting gays and lesbians from state-sponsored discrimination is not a special right, it is a human right.