Gay Victory in U.N. Resolution Vote
BY Julie Bolcer
December 21 2010 9:00 AM ET
Following weeks of intense lobbying by gay activists and the United States, member states of
the United Nations voted Tuesday evening to restore "sexual orientation"
to a resolution that condemns extrajudicial killings.
The assembly voted 93 in favor of the United States' proposal to restore the previous language, with 55 countries against and 27 abstaining. The assembly then approved the amended resolution with 122 in favor, zero votes against, and 59 abstentions, including the United States, which withheld support for reasons unrelated to the sexual orientation reference it worked to restore.
"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," said Susan E. Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, in a statement following the vote.
The reference to sexual orientation has been included in the biennial
resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary killings since 1999.
Last month, following the introduction of an amendment from Benin on
behalf of the African countries at a meeting of the Third Committee,
which deals with human rights issues, the language was deleted and
replaced with a more general reference to “discriminatory reasons on any
basis.” The committee, which includes all 192 member states of the
United Nations, approved the amendment by a vote of 79-70, with 17
abstentions, and the resolution without specific reference to sexual
orientation passed by a vote of 165-0, with 10 abstentions, including
the United States.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the following statement after the vote on Tuesday.
"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."
In the days leading up to the final vote, advocates urged member states to approve an amendment introduced by
the United States to restore the reference to sexual orientation.
"This, of course, could not have happened without the concerted and passionate efforts of several governments," said Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International
Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a statement. "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.
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
In a speech on Human Rights Day less than two weeks ago, Ambassador Rice said she was “incensed”
about the vote in the Third Committee and vowed that the U.S. would work
to restore the reference to sexual orientation in the resolution. Her
remarks followed a speech by U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in which
he spoke forcefully against the criminalization of homosexuality.
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Entertainment News CA Town Hoists And Promptly Removes Gay Pride Flag 38 min ago
- No More Bullying Meet the 2013 Point Scholars: Living Proof It Does Get Better 6:00 AM
- Commentary Op-ed: Dreaming in the White House 5:05 AM
- Commentary Day of Decision Op-ed: When a Marriage Would Split Us Up 4:00 AM
- Entertainment News Seen at TrevorLIVE: Jane Lynch, Billy Porter, Cason Crane, Cindy McCain June 18 2013 9:44 PM
- Women Where the Girls Are in West Hollywood June 18 2013 8:09 PM
- The Wedding Channel EXCLUSIVE: Kim Stolz & Lexi Ritsch Wedding Photos June 18 2013 7:46 PM