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State Dept. Elaborates Position on Homosexuality and the Death Penalty

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert

While the U.S. condemns the use of capital punishment for homosexuality, it could not support a resolution opposing it for any offense, says a State Department spokeswoman.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, objected to much of the coverage of the U.S. vote against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning the use of the death penalty as punishment for consensual gay sex, a practice that several countries maintain.

The U.S. "unequivocally condemns" that application of the death penalty but voted against the resolution "because of broader concerns," Nauert said. Many of the news stories and press releases on the matter have been "misleading," she said.

"As our representative to the Human Rights Council said on Friday, last Friday, the United States is disappointed to have voted against that resolution," she told reporters. "We voted against that resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution's approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances, and it called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does. The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy. We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization."

The U.S. was one of 13 countries voting against the resolution, which carried with 27 votes in favor. It won't force member countries to take action but does constitute an important statement against certain applications of the death penalty.

LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, denounced the U.S. vote. "While the U.N. Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not championing this critical measure," said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. "This administration's blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful."

Watch Nauert's briefing below. Discussion of the resolution begins just before the 1:03 mark.

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