UN Votes to Restore Sexual Orientation to Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

Good news coming in from the UN, as member states have voted to restore sexual orientation to a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The body had voted 79 to 70 with 17 abstentions and 26 absences on November 16 to remove Sexual orientation from the resolution.

The AP reports:


The removal of the reference, done at the committee level last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified killings.

The assembly on Tuesday voted 93 in favor of the United States' proposal to restore the previous language, with 55 countries against and 27 abstaining. The assembly then approved the amended resolution 122 in favor, with 0 votes against, and 59 abstentions.

Ambassador Susan Rice led the efforts to reinsert the resolution, The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

Suggesting LGBT peoples are weak and invited discrimination, the United Arab Emirates spoke at length, and said it “rejects firmly” the “controversial” statement that has “no legal foundation.”

The African Group representative said they were “gravely alarmed” with the “undefined notion of sexual orientation,” and called the attempt to restore the term a “systematic attempt to create new rights,” and  said it would “jeopardize the entire human rights framework… to achieve narrow political gain.”

In a major switch, South Africa voted for the resolution, after having voted to remove sexual orientation from the resolution last month. Rowanda also spoke very eloquently. But Zimbabwe, calling the text “adventurism,” also likened homosexuality to bestiality and said “individual proclivities should be just that.”


  1. says

    It might be in everyone’s interest here to familiarize yourself with which countries were the 59 abstentions.

    Just in case it affects your vacation plans…just sayin’ 😉

  2. says

    The most moving contribution was from the Rwandan delegate who said that a group does not need to be “legally defined” to be targeted for massacres and referenced his countries experience. “We can’t continue to hide our heads in the sand” he said.”These people have a right to life.”

    The reference to ‘legal definition’ was a pointed reference to the argument of other African countries, led by Benin, as well as the Islamic countries, led by Tajikistan and Arab countries, led by UAE, that ‘sexual orientation’ wasn’t defined and wasn’t covered by international human rights agreements.

  3. Paul R says


    I’d like to be happier about this, and am not surprised that Susan Rice was able to cajole people to vote properly. But UN resolutions are notoriously toothless.

    Screw the UAE. Most oil-rich countries in that region are going to have depleted their reserves within 5-20 years, then they’ll be dirt poor. And I will laugh, because they’ve only used their oil wealth to benefit small minorities and have some of the most backward policies on the planet.

  4. luckylinden says

    I hope this victory by the Obama administration to work behind the scenes at the U.N. to right this wrong, and the totality of the past couple weeks (DADT)merits a re-look at what Obama and his adminstration have and haven’t done in his first two years in office. I came back from deployment and have been shocked at how hateful and angry the comments have been while I was gone (for obvious reasons, I wasn’t getting on the Towleroad site from the computers there).

    I know a lot of people want him out-front on gay issues–condemning opposition in stronger language, issuing executive orders, and playing the political hardball that has become so legendary, and problematic, in Washington today. But I think it’s really important to see that while his approach has infuriated many, it’s been smart–and effective. We have had more done for gay rights and changing discriminatory policies than we have EVER had done under ANY president before. He made the phone calls for DADT, personally, in the days prior, which has been coming out more and more lately, but was hardly promoted by the White House in “real” time, and even when he knew it would cost him with his base, he has avoided allowing the Republicans to personalize the issue by making it about “big, liberal socialist Obama.” Instead, he suggested a report that would probably (as it did)bring senior military leaders around and eventually give cover to Republicans for whom the “principle” alone was not enough to an Executive Order would have been limited in its ability to overturn existing law (he could basically have ordered the stopping of any discharges, not the change of the policy), and would have overturned–as a campaign promise, no doubt–by the next Republican president.

    And dropping the defense of DADT in the courts, though attractive, would have set a precedent that would have allowed the NEXT Republican president, for example, to simply refuse to defend ENDA (should it pass) because he opposes it. As it stands, no matter how partisan the president, current laws get defended, whether agreed with or not by the individual. What would have worked for us now, would have bitten us when suddenly when gay people sued for their own rights under the law, the government could simply refuse to defend the law. When that law is DADT, we hate it, but it’s the price we pay for making sure something like ENDA is one day defended regardless of the party in power.

    So Obama has worked quietly, and under intense criticism from our communtiy and his own ideological fellows–to the point so many gays decided to vote Republican to “show” him, nice work guys–to get the job done and keep his promises to our community. They may not get done as fast as we’d like, or in the way that we’d like, but they actually get done. Remember the last Democratic Presdient? He came in with a promise to repeal the ban on gays in the military, overplayed his hand and to avoid the outright ban being written into LAW had to accept DADT instead. Moving too fast, too brashly, works with the die-hards (even when you lose), but it doesn’t get legislation passed, and keep it enforeceable and defensible for the future challenges to come.

    I am so proud of the changes Obama HAS made by executive order to increase the gay rights and benefits for federal workers, the promise KEPT that DADT would end this year (through the use of the report, and key allies and surrogates in Congress who could be “out front” while Obama avoided the political identification that would come with it being “his” issue and not hte military’s), and the fact that while we’re complaining about what he’s not doing (and have no idea what he and his folks actually ARE doing) his appointees are doing things like showing GLOBAL leadership at the U.N. to make sure the final vote on this did not exclude gays and lesbians.

    There’s a method to the madness and it’s meant getting MORE done (health care, gay rights, benefits for federal workers, repealing DADT, START treaty) than any new president in recent history. It also means getting more done for gays, period. Not enough? sure, that’s always the case. Compromise and loss of other issues? Of course, that’s how the game is played in our bi-party, bi-cameral, tri-branched system, but he doesn’t deserve the hate he’s been getting here.

    It’s him and his appointees and his administration who are cutting the deals and taking the flak and actually getting the stuff done. I have renewed hope for ENDA and an end to DOMA if it can be done–I believe they’ll do it. Remains to see if they can make the compromises or cut the deals to get enough Republican support.

    The hardest part about how the sausage is made is how NOT pretty it is. But if you are good at the process, no matter how ugly, you’ll get it on the table.

    Sorry, went on for a while, but so proud of the US leadership on this issue at the UN and so many more.

  5. Paul R says

    @LuckyLinden, it’s nice to read an informed, intelligent, realistic comment. Congrats on being home, and thanks for your service.

  6. Christmas Grinch says

    Yes, because the UN did soooo much to champion women’s rights they will get right on that whole gay rights thing.

    When they do more than stomp their foot at abuses then I will care.

  7. Chris says

    @Luckylinden Welcome back, and thank you for your well argued post. I too am amazed how people begrudge the very real changes that have happened during this administration. Obama’s not perfect, and we would all like to see more and faster change. But change is happening.

  8. Tom Henning says

    Let me guess, luckylinden, that you have a pretty good life? A college degree or two, financially secure, a partner, thirties, in good health, white perhaps, and male?

    It’s very unlikely that you’re a closeted teenager, a working-class person in rural area, or a person of color. You clearly don’t feel threatened on a daily basis by young toughs on the street due to your appearance, not are you afraid of losing your job or living situation if your “secret” is revealed.

    You’re also unlikely to be old enough to have lived through the horror of the AIDS crisis from the start.

    I’m glad that you support Obama still. I cannot. George Bush was much more effective pushing his agenda, and I now admire his approach. He got us into a trillion dollar war that we’re still fighting. The best Obama can do in the liberal direction is a Hail Mary pass that overturns Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at the last minute. I see him as weak and ineffectual.

  9. Fred says

    Inasmuch as I want to believe the UN is a worthy organization, which supports minorities and GLBT rights, I don’t. When the UN votes 79 to 70 to remove sexual orientation from their list of protections, they lost all remaining credibility.

    It will take much work on their part to restore my faith in them (same for Obama)

  10. Kayla says

    The United Nations is WORTHLESS! When have they EVER protected anyone’s rights or saved a life? From Srebrenica, where they literally handed over thousands of people to a horrible death, to Rwanda where they basically ran and hid in the midst of a Genocide. That is a worthless organization. Especially when countries that stone women and hang and behead gay men get a vote. What a freaking joke and a complete waste of time!

  11. candideinnc says

    The UN need not be worthless. When the Cuban missile showdown occurred, the UN permitted a breather before hostilities. That opportunity for thoughtfulness continues to exist unless the government places troglodytes in the position of ambassador like Yosemite Sam.

  12. Chris says

    @Tom did you even read @luckylinden’s post? Given he hints broadly that he is a serving member of the military I think your assumption that “nor are you afraid of losing your job or living situation if your “secret” is revealed.” is completely wrong.

    And even if you were right your argument is pure ad-hominem and doesn’t address any of the points @luckylinden made.

  13. Chris says

    @tom you say “George Bush was much more effective pushing his agenda, and I now admire his approach.”

    I don’t admire Bush’s approach. I’d rather have a president who honors the rule of law rather than riding roughshod over it. That is harder to stomach when we disagree with current law, but it is vastly better than the alternative. The actions of this president must roll back the excesses of the disastrous Bush years.

  14. simon says

    A news article says that US introduced the resolution but abstained. This administration likes to do some weird stuff like supporting the repeal of DADT and defending it in court at the same time.
    “Rick Barton of the US Mission to the UN introduced the amendment, and did not mention that the US would in fact abstain from the resolution barring extrajudicial executions, related it’s reported to criticism of the US’ use of drones in Pakistan and elsewhere”

  15. ratbastard says

    The UN is a bad joke. Most people stopped laughing a long time ago. Just more of the same poo that looks nice on paper and on some folks resume. What was the nature of the threats and/or bribes used to get the ‘correct’ outcome? How much is it going to cost? How will the big talkers back up their big talk and big ideas?

  16. SFshawn says

    It will be interesting to see the final printed listing of who abstained? None of the 59 Hater “Countries”(if you can really refer to them as legitimate countries) had the actual courage to vote NO. Those gays who travel know to avoid places that beg for our money and yet deny us our dignity(and sometimes our very lives) by their hateful bigotry and intolerance.

  17. jamal49 says

    @LUCKYLINDEN: just about the best analysis I’ve read in a long time regarding Pres. Obama’s alleged “non-action”. The President is not a “show horse”. He’s not a “drama queen” as it were. He is a pragmatist who is using his influence quietly, behind the scenes, where most issues like this get resolved or advanced.

    I despaired when the U.N. voted against including sexual orientation last week. The bigots have won, I thought.

    I will give Barack Obama full credit for turning around the U.N.’s vote.