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U.S. Opposes U.N. Resolution Against Death Penalty for LGBT People

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. (Beeto Matthews / AP)

On Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory fashion or to punish “apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and consensual same-sex relations.”

The vote passed with a 27-13 margin, but the U.S. sided with allies including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, China and India in opposing the move.

The resolution does not outlaw the use of the death penalty; it merely prohibits its use in a discriminatory way. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, “The resolution asked countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not ‘applied arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner’ and that it is not applied against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities and persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, as well as pregnant women.”

Additionally, the U.S. backed a proposed amendment to the resolution from Egypt that said “a moratorium (on the death penalty) should be a decision after domestic debate.” The U.S. abstained from voting on a proposed amendment from Saudi Arabia that said countries have the right to “develop their own laws and penalties (in accordance with international law.)”

Salon reports:

LGBT rights activists criticized President Donald Trump’s administration and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, for not supporting the resolution. Yet, don’t go thinking this stance is anything new or localized to the 45th president’s administration. The U.S. has never voted to support any U.N. measure that condemns the death penalty in any way. The Obama administration did abstain from a similar vote in 2014, according to BuzzFeed News, though that one did not contain provisions for LGBT individuals.

“Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBT community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships,” Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global said in an emailed statement after the vote, BuzzFeed reported.

“While the UN 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. This administration’s blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful,” he added.

Four U.N. member countries punish homosexuality with death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen), as do certain provinces in Nigeria and Somalia and Islamic State-controlled territories in northern Iraq and northern Syria. There are many more countries where homosexuality is illegal but not punishable by death.

The Trump administration has not offered an explanation for the U.S. vote on the resolution. The vote also comes days after President Trump endorsed Ray Moore, who has stated that “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” as the Republican Senate nominee in Alabama.

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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