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BREAKING: UN restores "sexual orientation" to the resolution against executions

The United Nations General Assembly has just adopted the USA’s amendment to restore “sexual orientation” to the Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.  The vote on the amendment was 93 yes, 55 no with 27 abstentions.  The General Assembly then went on to adopt the Resolution itself by a vote of 122 to 0, with 50 abstentions.

Today the Unite Nations sends a strong message that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are entitled to the fundamental human right to life.

Today’s amendment was necessary in the aftermath of a vote last month in the UN’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural), where 79 countries voted to strip “sexual orientation” from the UN Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.  Only 70 countries supported retention of the term, while 43 countries abstained or didn’t vote.

This is the only UN resolution to include an explicit reference to sexual orientation, so today’s vote was crucial to keeping international focus the fact that LGBT people are specifically targeted for human rights abuses around the world.

Update: Statement by Ambassador Susan Rice and other reactions are below the fold.

Update 2: How the countries voted.  Countries that voted in November in the Third Committee to remove “sexual orientation” from the Resolution but switched their votes on Dec. 21st to restore it are in boldface):

In favor of amendment restoring sexual orientation to UNGA resolution on executions (93):

Albania, Andorra, Angola, Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Marshall Island, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela

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

Abstained (27):

Belarus, Bhutan, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Lao, Lesotho, Liberia, Maldives, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome Principe, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam

Did not vote/Absent (17):

Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Seychelles, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan

Related:

* Demand that Governments of the World Condemn LGBT Executions

* Association of British Muslims criticizes UN for removing sexual orientation protections

* Gays on safari in Kenya are now themselves fair gameAmbassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, After Adoption by the General Assembly of a US-led Amendment to the Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions

Susan E. Rice

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York, NY

December 21, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

Several weeks ago, on November 16, the General Assembly’s Third Committee voted by a narrow margin to eliminate any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world. The United States fought hard for that reference when it came to a Committee vote, and we lost. As I have said before, I was incensed by that vote.

In the weeks following that setback, the United States was proud to introduce an amendment to restore this critical language to the biennial resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Execution before it came for a final vote of the full UN General Assembly. On December 10, at an event marking Human Rights Day, I announced our effort and said, “We’re going to stand firm on this basic principle, and we intend to win.”

The U.S built a broad coalition of partners and together we galvanized member states to support this effort – and to win.

Today, the General Assembly voted by a significant margin, 93 to 55, to approve the U.S.-led amendment and condemn the extrajudicial killing of people around the world due to their sexual orientation.

The voices of civil society and human rights defenders around the world have been heard today, and for that my delegation is especially proud. Less than two weeks after we celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, today’s vote ensures that the principles enshrined in that Declaration are put into practice – and indeed live on – in the 21st Century.

Rick D. Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Remarks by Rick D. Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, on the Vote on the General Assembly Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions contained in the Report of the Third Committee

Ambassador Rick Barton

U.S. Representative

New York, NY

December 21, 2010

AS DELIVERED

Mr. President,

Thank you for this opportunity to take the floor after the vote.

The United States would like to thank countries for their support. We applaud those member states that have stood with us to oppose efforts seeking to block language on “sexual orientation” from this resolution.

Along with many countries in this room today, the United States was deeply disappointed by the vote in the third committee, which eliminated any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from this resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world.

The voices of civil society and human rights defenders around the world have indeed been heard by the member states of the United Nations – and for that my delegation is especially grateful. The General Assembly has sent a clear signal today that justice and human rights apply to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.

As Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this year on Human Rights Day, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to all human beings without exception and that “violence will end only when we confront prejudice.”

Having just celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, today’s vote ensures that the principles enshrined in that Declaration are put into practice and indeed live on in the 21st century. We have reaffirmed that “all human rights apply to all.” We hope that we can continue to make progress on this at the UN and that all member states will consider signing the statement on LGBT human rights before the UNGA.

We thank the member states of the General Assembly for their support today.

Thank you Mr. President.

Statement by Secretary Clinton – UN General Assembly Action on Sexual Orientation

For Immediate Release                                                                                      December 21, 2010

2010/1850

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

UN General Assembly Action on Sexual Orientation

I am pleased by the UN General Assembly’s action today to include sexual orientation in a resolution condemning extrajudicial and summary executions.  The United States introduced this language to send an unequivocal message in concert with our many international partners: No one should be killed for who they are.  

Sadly, many people around the world continue to be targeted and killed because of their sexual orientation.  These heinous crimes must be condemned and investigated wherever they occur.  We look forward to continuing our work with others around the world to protect the human rights of those facing threats or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Statement by the Press Secretary on Adoption of U.S. Sponsored Amendment to Ensure Gays and Lesbians Are Covered By UN Resolution on Extrajudicial Execution

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

December 21, 2010  

Statement by the Press Secretary on Adoption of U.S. Sponsored Amendment to Ensure Gays and Lesbians Are Covered By UN Resolution on Extrajudicial Execution

   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.  Today’s vote in the United Nations marks an important moment in the struggle for civil and human rights.  The time has come for all nations to redouble our efforts to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

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