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UN Votes to Restore Sexual Orientation to Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

UN Votes to Restore Sexual Orientation to Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

The United Sates on Tuesday led an effort to restore specific sexual orientation-inclusive language to the UN resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The resolution affirms member states’ obligation to human rights and highlights groups that have historically been subject to extrajudicial executions, including ethnic, religious and other minority communities, therein asking that member nations make a commitment to thoroughly investigate such killings. The resolution has included sexual orientation for the past 10 years.

Last month, Morocco and Mali introduced an amendment on behalf of African and Islamic nations that deleted specific wording relating to “sexual orientation”, replacing it with “discriminatory reasons on any basis.”

That amendment passed by a narrow 79–70 vote. The resolution was then approved by the committee, which includes all 192 member states. (For a full list of how the member nations voted, please click here.) This vote then required ratification.

Human rights groups condemned the move, with Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch saying: “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.”

On Tuesday however, the United Sates introduced an amendment to reintroduce the language. The General Assembly approved the sexual orientation-inclusive language with 93 votes in favor, 55 against and 27 abstentions. The resolution was then adopted with 122 affirmative votes, no votes against and 59 abstentions.

The resolution now again states: “To ensure the effective protection of the right to life of all persons under their jurisdiction and to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including those targeted at specific groups of persons, such as…killings of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, or because of their sexual orientation….”

Reuters reports that the amendment produced negative reactions from certain UN member states, with Zimbabwe’s UN Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa comparing the move to codifying acceptance of bestiality and pedophilia, saying: “We will not have it foisted on us. We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, pedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.”

He continued, “In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity by mutual consent does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed.”

Mr. Chipaziwa overlooks the fact that the resolution merely maintains what has been a decade-long inclusion of sexual orientation, and does nothing to change the resolution nor enforce anything that was not there before. His comparison of homosexuality to crimes like bestiality and pedophilia perhaps speaks volumes as to why this resolution is needed in the first place. 

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice welcomed the adoption of the amended resolution, saying, “Today, the United Nations General Assembly has sent a clear and resounding message that justice and human rights apply to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.”

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission also applauded the vote, while noting, however, that there still exists no mention of gender identity, an omission that they urge member states to remedy.

Excerpts from the IGLHRC press release appear below (emphasis added):

“This, of course, could not have happened without the concerted and passionate efforts of several governments. But what this victory also demonstrates is the power of civil society at the UN and working across countries and regions to demand that their own governments vote to protect LGBT lives.” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). “The outpouring of support from the international community sent the strong message to our representatives at the UN that it is unacceptable to make invisible the deadly violence LGBT people face because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

Following the November vote, civil society from around the world – including strong coalitions from the Global South – were vocal in pressuring their governments to support critical human rights protections for LGBT people. As the ad hoc civil society coalition from South Africa noted:

“The November amendment … aggravates an already difficult environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and their defenders, who live in continual fear of violent attack and experience discrimination throughout Africa and many other parts of the world. …and ignores the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

[...]

This marks a return to previous inclusive language that governments in the UN have supported for close to a decade. These abuses have also been consistently documented by UN Special Rapporteurs in reports to the UN Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, a point noted in today’s statement by Belgium on behalf of the European Union.

Regrettably, governments have so far failed to include in the resolution mention of, or specific protection around, killings committed on the basis of gender identity. This is despite the fact that transgender people around the world are among those most vulnerable to violence and killings.

[...]

Several swing states indicated a change from their votes in November. South Africa, a key vote from the African region, stated that in today’s vote they were “guided by our Constitution that guarantees the right to life” and that “no killing of human beings can be justified whatsoever.” Colombia, which abstained on the earlier vote, also offered its unequivocal support during the new vote.

Although several countries claimed a supposed lack of a definition of sexual orientation in international law as a reason for their opposition, countries such as Rwanda firmly rejected this saying: “Take my word, a human group need not be legally defined to be the victim of executions and massacres as those that target their members have [already] previously defined [them]. Rwanda has also had this bitter experience sixteen years ago. It is for this that the Delegation of Rwanda will vote for this amendment and calls on other delegations to do likewise.”

Today’s vote affirms the message of UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, who on International Human Rights Day, delivered an unequivocal statement – much quoted by States supporting the amendment – on the obligation of the UN and its member states to end violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

He declared, “Together, we seek the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality, that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that encourage violence. People were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings.”

You can read the full press release and also view a full list of how member states voted by going to the IGLHRC website here.


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54 comments

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11:08PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

Lindsay, I did NOT say that pedophilia wasn't legal anywhere. You completely missed my point. I said that nowhere does a gay rights law give protection for pedophilia.

8:40AM PST on Dec 29, 2010

Of COURSE Muslims are "humans just like you are"....etc. So was Hitler. So was Pol Pot. Humanity does horrible things in the name of religion.

You'll notice that slavery doesn't exist in the US any longer...although it does exist in Muslim countries. So does religious and sexual persecution. Muslim countries have no freedoms of speech, religion and other personal liberties we take for granted...such as education for women.

The day "moderate" Muslims rise up and overthrow the leaders who perpetuate the cruelties and oppressions of that religion, I'll support them.

Meanwhile, anyone who ignores the characteristics of those governments is foolishly optimistic. Ultimately, Islam IS what's written in a book...because those people who enjoy the power it gives them to interpret the hateful words of the hadiths, etc, BECOME Islam!

Stonings, floggings, beheadings....all these things are clearly sanctioned in the Koran...they ARE Islam until someone stops them.

5:40AM PST on Dec 29, 2010

A MUSLIM IS A PERSON JUST LIKE YOU ARE. A person with a FAMILY, with SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS, with the same need to eat and rest and learn and love......

I have come to the conclusion, that the ANTI-MUSLIM PROPAGANDA that says otherwise, is coming from CERTAIN FUNDAMENTALIST "CHRISTIAN" GROUPS; groups that people mistakenly TRUST, because they have that "Christian" appellation.

They do have APPALLING LAWS in several predominantly Muslim countries.
They do have APPALLING LAWS in several predominantly CHRISTIAN countries, too {look up some Eastern European countries' laws on Gays, for example}.
They DID have APPALLING LAWS in the U.S. past {Slavery, for example}; and in ALL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES YOUR ANCESTORS PRESUMABLY CAME FROM. {It would make me SICK TO MY STOMACH to give many examples here! Torture, burning at the stake for heresy...}
Islamic countries haven't been fortunate like some of ours, to have a Religious Reformation and Democratic Revolutions. {Some say they are still "in the Middle Ages". Like OUR "Middle Ages" of the "West".}
BUT I ASSURE YOU, IN EACH AND EVERY MUSLIM COUNTRY THERE ARE EDUCATED, ENLIGHTENED MUSLIM PEOPLE WORKING TO CHANGE THAT. Often at great risk, of course! BUT THESE MUSLIM PEOPLE DO EXIST... AND THEY WILL EVENTUALLY WIN. History is on THEIR side; however hard they may have it now!
Again it bears repeating: Muslims, just like Christians and Jews and others, pick out those parts of Scripture that SUIT them; and ignore the rest! So: Peace!

5:22AM PST on Dec 29, 2010

Mac R:
I think Jon Stewart hasn't read your post on him; I am very confused about what he said, he didn't say it very clearly; but I came to the conclusion {BEFORE I read your post}, that he didn't mean what you think he meant. That is for him to say, of course. But I had to read the post over & over again to make sense out of it. I think he is talking about "definitions" that OTHER people might use; without saying those are HIS "definitions". That is just MY opinion. Hope I am right!
Pam W:
"Islam" is NOT what is written in a Book! {"Christianity" is not what is written in a Book!} Islam is the PEOPLE; who INTERPRET what is written in the Book! {Xianity is the PEOPLE who... etc.}
The Quran has both "peaceful" and "warlike" passages. {The Bible has both... etc.}
I have actually read discussions by Muslim scholars about the "peaceful" and "non-peaceful" passages; that is actually a problem that intelligent educated Muslims discuss among themselves. {Just as Christian scholars and students, priests and pastors and laypeople, do! Wow, think of that!}
JUST LIKE CHRISTIANS; Muslims PICK OUT the passages that suit them at the time, the ones they WANT to believe in!
Finally, IN EVERY MUSLIM COUNTRY WITHOUT EXCEPTION, there are Progressive individuals and leaders and WOMEN, who WANT to change their countries and religion for the BETTER! You have to DIG a bit to HEAR about them; but I can tell you, THEY DO EXIST. It's not easy for them, believe me!

10:01PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

noted and pleased. Thank-you.

7:09PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

Noted.

8:41AM PST on Dec 27, 2010

I can't send another star to Lindsey, so I'll just copy what she said. The next time you hear someone misguidedly prattle on about "peaceful, loving Islam"...remember this, ok?

"Opposed to amendment (55):
Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, China, Comoros, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The Islamic world in general doesn't appear to have much of a problem with the killing of homosexuals, does it? Even a relatively 'moderate' nation such as Jordan."

4:01AM PST on Dec 27, 2010

Actually, pedophilia is legal in some countries - in which very young girls are so often forced into arranged marriages. And a piece of paper (a marriage license) gives permission for those children to be molested every day of their lives from then on.

2:33AM PST on Dec 27, 2010

My mistake, Jon Stewart. I thought you were on my friends list but you're not---- but that makes no difference. I'm still asking the same question I asked in that posting: Do you personally really conflate homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia?

I am merely another Care2 member and you certainly are not obligated to answer me. As I said, as far as I recall, I've always agreed with your comments on political stories and others and I've sent you green stars more than once. I would just like to know for future reference if what you wrote here is really how you see this.

2:20AM PST on Dec 27, 2010

BMutiny, that is so very true! Few of the African countries, as well as the Carribean islands and other parts of the world in general had problems or laws against homosexuality until the British, French and Dutch imported their extreme homophobia and codified it into laws, especially in the Victorian period.

Jon Stewart, there is NO PLACE ON EARTH where laws allowing homosexuality include protections for people who practice pedophilia or bestiality. Those are two completely unrelated, seperate items and there is nowhere they are legal. Lumping those two criminal acts with homosexuality is a favorite tactic of the rightwingers and homophobic groups.

You're on my friends list and I've seen you make plenty of thoughtful comments on all kinds of stories. I am shocked to see you write this false flag conflation here on this thread! Of course you don't have to answer me, but I would like to know why you wrote that here? I would like to know if you really believe that pedophilia and bestiality are equated with homosexuality and treated the same anywhere by anyone?

Gay rights are about the rights of consenting adults to love whom they wish. I shouldn't even need to state the obvious that neither of the criminal acts you conflated with homosexuality involve "consent", which neither a child nor an animal can give. Only when homophobes use this tactic does anyone need to address those criminal acts in the same breath as gay rights and it really pisses me off when I have to.

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