US & Canada

UN restores gay clause to killings resolution

US ambassador to the US Susan Rice
Image caption The US said it was pleased by the change to the resolution

UN member states have voted to restore a controversial reference to sexual orientation in a resolution against the unjustified killing of minority groups.

The clause had been removed after pressure from some Arab and African member states but the US had pushed to have it reinstated.

The General Assembly voted 93 in favour of the US proposal, with 55 countries voting against and 27 abstaining.

The outcome was welcomed by human rights advocates.

"We are relieved by the result," said Boris Dittrich, of Human Rights Watch.

"Countries that tried to roll back crucial protections for gay and lesbian people have been defeated."


The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, also welcomed the adoption of the amended resolution, saying it sent a "clear and resounding message" that justice and human rights applied to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In a statement, the White House said that the vote marked an important moment in the struggle for civil and human rights.

Killing people because they were gay, it said, was not "culturally defensible, but criminal" and could not be "rationalised by diverse religious values or varying regional perspectives".

But ahead of the vote, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Chitsaka Chipaziwa, attacked the US amendment, saying there was no need to refer explicitly to sexual orientation.

"We will not have it foisted on us," he said, according to Reuters. "We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, paedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.

"In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity, by mutual consent, does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed," he added.

The General Assembly passes resolutions condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings every two years.

The original 2008 declaration had included an explicit reference to killings committed because of the victims' sexual orientation.

It also expressed opposition to violence motivated by racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons, as well as the killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups.

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