Brazil withdraws pro-gay U.N. resolution
March 30 2004 1:00 AM ET
Brazil withdrew a resolution championing gay rights at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission on Monday, saying there wasn't enough international support for the document for a second year in a row. Brazil said it feared a repetition of the 2003 Human Rights Commission meeting, when several Islamic countries that opposed the document got the vote postponed until this year. The resolution would condemn discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. "Since November last year, we have been consulting with delegations of several countries on the text," Brazil's U.N. mission in Geneva said in a statement. "We have not yet been able, however, to arrive at a necessary consensus." Muslim members of the commission said last year they were against any resolution containing the words "sexual orientation." At the time, ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Malaysia said non-Muslim nations were wrong to try to impose their values on others.
Scott Long, of the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch, disagreed with Brazil's reasoning. "We don't move human rights forward by consensus. We move human rights forward with courage," Long said. "When we counted the votes, there was a strong possibility the resolution would pass." Long accused Brazil of backing down because it was afraid to jeopardize a summit of Arab and Latin American leaders it will host in September. There was no immediate reaction from Brazilian diplomats in Geneva. The U.N. Human Rights Commission tackles a wide range of rights violations, ranging from torture and mass killings to the right to education, food, and housing for all. Last year was the first time that a nation made a proposal specifically regarding sexual orientation.