Today, the USA voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the Death Penalty for having gay sex. The vote did pass, but America joined 12 other countries in voting NO: Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.
The UN Human Rights Council resolution condemned: “The imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.
It also called for an end to executions against those with “Mental or intellectual disabilities, persons under 18-years-old at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women”, and included: “Serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women”.
The USA also abstained on a “Sovereignty Amendment” from Saudi Arabia, that stated: “The right of all countries to develop their own laws and penalties”. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) called the amendment an attempt to “dilute its impact”.
Despite USA’s opposition, the vote passed 27 to 20 in favor.
There are currently 11 countries where the death penalty can be used for people in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Somalia. This number rises to 12 if we count the Isis-occupied territories of Iraq and Syria.
Extreme fundamentalist religiosity, Muslim and Christian, is the driving force keeping the “Kill The Gay” laws. Methods include firing squad, stoning, beheading, and being buried alive.
Shockingly, 40 countries retain a “Gay Panic” clause which allows people to use as a defense for committing crimes such as assault or murder that they claim was provoked because the person was LGBTQ.
Russia’s attitude about same-sex relationships has been well established. It is not illegal to be LGBTQ, but couples are offered no protections from discrimination. They can be actively discriminated against because of a 2013 law criminalizing LGBTQ Propaganda.
The USA had laws that allowed the death penalty for “Those who commit the detestable and abominable vice of buggery with mankind or beast” until 1873. The USA allowed prison terms for sodomy until 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court. The Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas in a 6-3 decision and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws for the entire country.
Of today’s vote at the UN, Renato Sabbadini the ILGA Executive Director, said:
“It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in states where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love. This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”
The resolution was introduced by eight countries: Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland, and supported by countries around our pretty planet including The UK, Congo, Kyrgyzstan and Bolivia.
The UN Human Rights Council meets at the Palace Of Nations (United Nations Office) in Geneva.
Secretary of State Rex Tillison and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley made no comment.