A vote last week by the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Committee has LGBT and human rights activists outraged over the decision to remove “sexual orientation” from a resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions.
The UN’s main assembly normally passes similar resolutions, condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings every two years, and the most recent resolution in 2008 declaration had contained an specific reference to LGBT killings.
Representatives from the African nations of Morocco and Mali had introduced an amendment on behalf of other African and Islamic nations calling for deletion of the phrase “sexual orientation” and instead substituting the phrase “discriminatory reasons on any basis” in its place.
The amendment narrowly passed 79-70, and then was approved by the committee, which includes all 192 U.N. member states, with 165 in favor, 10 abstentions and no votes against.
The resolution will now go before the entire UN General Assembly in December and is expected to be adopted — it does specify other types of violence, including killings for racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons and killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups.
“It’s a step backwards and it’s extremely disappointing that some countries felt the need to remove the reference to sexual orientation, when sexual orientation is the very reason why so many people around the world have been subjected to violence,” said Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
Veteran UK LGBT activist Peter Tatchell in an interview with Britain’s pinknews.uk, Jessica Geen, said, “The move was a “shameful day in United Nations history” and would give a “de facto green light to the on-going murder of LGBT people by homophobic regimes, death squads and vigilantes.”
Tatchell said homophobic countries would “take comfort from the fact that the UN does not endorse the protection of LGBT people against hate-motivated murder,” and added, “The UN vote is in direct defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees equal treatment, non-discrimination and the right to life. What is the point of the UN if it refuses to uphold its own humanitarian values and declarations?”
“Many of the nations that voted for this amendment want to ensure that their anti-gay policies are not scrutinized or condemned by the UN. Even if they don’t directly sanction the killing of LGBT people, they have lined up alongside nations that do,” Tatchell said.
He also criticized the nations of South Africa and Cuba, who voted in favor of the amendment.
“Presidents Raul Castro and Jacob Zuma should hang their heads in shame. They’ve betrayed the liberation ideals that they profess to uphold,” Tatchell said.
In a statement from Stonewall, the London based UK LGBT Equality Rights organization said, “The vote by a UN panel to remove sexual orientation from this significant resolution is deeply disturbing. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people face violence, abuse and in some states, execution, because of their sexual orientation. This is a worrying and regressive step. We call on the UK government to lead from the front foot to end the persecution of gay people in other countries.”
A spokesman for U. S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, en route to a NATO Arms Summit in Lisbon on Thursday, expressed disappointment at the panel’s actions, noting that the U. S. delegation had opposed the change to the resolution and abstained from the final vote.
Following is the list of countries that voted to remove “sexual orientation” from the anti-execution resolution:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe