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UN votes against protecting gays from execution

By Daniel Tencer
Sunday, November 21, 2010 16:16 EDT
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The UN has removed a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution condemning arbitrary and unjustified executions.

The UN General Assembly resolution, which is renewed every two years, contained a reference opposing the execution of LBGT people in its 2008 version. But this year’s version passed without any reference to gay rights after a group of mostly African and Asian countries, led by Mali and Morocco, voted to remove it.

Gay rights groups fear the move — which passed in a narrow 79 to 70 vote — will act as a signal that persecuting people for their sexual orientation is internationally acceptable.

“This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said in a statement. “It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

Johnson was referring to a bill introduced in Uganda’s legislature last year that would mandate the death penalty for multiple acts of gay sex or for any gay person carrying HIV. Though the bill appeared to be shelved after an international outcry, its principal supporter said last month the bill would be law “soon.”

Uganda was among 79 countries that voted to remove the reference to sexual orientation from the resolution. Among the other countries were Afghanistan, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Most Western countries, including the US, voted in favor of keeping the reference to sexual orientation in place.

The US abstained from the final vote to approve the resolution, with diplomats telling the UN General Assembly the US was “dismayed” at the decision.

The resolution “gives a de facto green light to the on-going murder of LGBT people by homophobic regimes, death squads and vigilantes,” said Peter Tatchell, a British LGBT activist. “They will take comfort from the fact that the UN does not endorse the protection of LGBT people against hate-motivated violence and murder.”

He 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?”

 
 
 
 
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