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Nikki Haley Misleads on U.N. Vote on Death Penalty for Gays

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley

She says the same vote on an anti-death penalty measure came during the Obama administration -- but that's not quite accurate.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says the U.S. vote against a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution condemning the use of the death penalty for same-sex relations is the same one made under the Obama administration in 2014 -- but that's not quite accurate.

Haley tweeted twice about the matter Tuesday evening, in the wake of news coverage about the Friday vote on the resolution, which also condemns application of the death penalty for such things as adultery and blasphemy, along with the execution of minors and people with intellectual disabilities, and calls on nations to consider abolishing it altogether. Twenty-seven countries voted in favor of it, 13 against.

But the 2014 resolution did not include the language about same-sex relations, and the U.S. did not vote against it -- it abstained. "We cannot agree with the slant of this resolution in favor of a moratorium or abolition, nor with the generality expressed that use of the death penalty inevitably leads to violations of human rights," Keith Harper, then the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said at the time. But because the resolution can contribute to open debate on capital punishment, "we have chosen to abstain rather than oppose this resolution, despite its flaws," he added.

Harper did say the U.S. wanted a "balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully," the same language used by Jason Mack, a U.S. delegate to the Human Rights Council, in explaining the vote against this year's resolution.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters gathered for a briefing Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. "unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy" and does not "consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization," but voted against the resolution "because of broader concerns with the resolution's approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances."

The U.S. vote against this year's resolution was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign and was the subject of several angry tweets. Journalist Zack Ford responded to Log Cabin Republicans president Gregory T. Angelo, who cited the 2014 resolution in an interview with the Washington Blade.

Those speaking out on Twitter also included Susan Rice, a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and national security adviser under President Obama, as well as California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and celebrities such as George Takei, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mark Ruffalo.

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