The United States will introduce its very first statement calling for the United Nations’ top human rights body to combat worldwide anti-LGBT discrimination, reports the Associated Press.
The U.S. declaration will be made Tuesday at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and has the support of more than 80 countries. Although it is not in the form of binding resolution, the American push for U.N. action has helped win over a handful of new countries to the cause. A resolution could be brought to a vote later this year.
The U.S. document calls for nations to end any criminal punishments against lesbians, gays and bisexuals, and asks the global body to review how governments treat them in the U.N.’s human rights assessments. It acknowledges that “these are sensitive issues for many,” but insists that people must be freed from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
The position is a marked improvement from previous years.
"We are very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations. "This statement sends a strong message from across the globe that such abuses should not be tolerated." Nossel said the U.S. was proud to be taking a leading role in promoting the idea that gay rights are human rights — among the sharper foreign policy redirections that occurred after President Barack Obama took office.
In December 2008, the Bush Administration joined perennial human rights abusers such as Russia, China and Islamic states to oppose a similar French resolution.
Two years later, in December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly voted to restore "sexual orientation" to a resolution that condemned "extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions." The reference to sexual orientation has been included in the biennial resolution since 1999 but failed November 16 on a vote of 165-0, with ten abstentions, including the United States. The main opposition came from Muslim and African nations.