U.S. Introducing Gay Rights Doc at U.N.

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com March 22 2011 2:20 PM ET

The Obama administration is expected to introduce a declaration to the United Nations calling for better treatment and protections for LGBT people internationally.  

The declaration, which will be announced Tuesday at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, has the support of more than 80 countries, according to the Associated Press. The document demands that countries end persecution of gay people and asks the U.N. to review how governments treat their gay citizens.

Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations, said the statement is a strong message to countries that persecute their citizens for being gay, having same-sex relationships, or demonstrating activism for gay rights.

"We are very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested, and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," she said.

The move represents a break from the Bush administration, which declined to support a 2008 document penned by the French government similar to the one being proposed next week. Russia, China, several Islamic countries, and the Vatican were among some of the other opposing nations. The U.S.'s argument against the document was that it could infringe on the rights of individual states to legislate issues like marriage equality.

The new resolution now has support from Thailand, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, which did not support the 2008 document.

Homosexuality is still punishable as a crime in at least 85 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, and Ghana.