President Barack Obama shakes hands with members of the Saudi royal family. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program sets a series of “ambitious targets” for the U.N.’s 193 member states, related to poverty, equality and ending climate change. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world and is preparing to behead and crucify a 21-year-old activist, was recently appointed to head the United Nations Human Rights Council. Homosexuality is illegal under Sharia—Islamic law—in Saudi Arabia. Punishments for those engaging in same-sex relationships include execution, chemical castration and imprisonment. Now, Saudi Arabia is insisting the organization remove LGBT rights from the Development Goals agenda, saying they are “counter to Islamic law.”

The goals pledge to ensure that “human rights and fundamental freedoms are enjoyed by all, without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, colour, sex, age, language, religion, culture, migration status, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic situation, birth, disability or other status.”

From The Associated Press via The Huffington Post:

Saudi Arabia is protesting any references to homosexuality in a sweeping new agenda for global development, saying it runs “counter to Islamic law.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a U.N. summit of world leaders Sunday that “mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman.”

He asserted his country’s right to not follow any rules that relate to any “deviations” from that belief as the world moves forward on the new development agenda.

The so-called Sustainable Development Goals include a target to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights by 2030. Some states like Saudi Arabia and the Vatican are concerned that references to “sexual rights” include rights for gay people.

Read the full article here.

Pink News reports that overt references to LGBT equality were removed from the final agreement.

–Posted by Roisin Davis


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