The US government under President Donald Trump has come under criticism for joining the likes of Iraq and Saudia Arabia to vote against a UN resolution condemning the death penalty for LGBT people.
Human rights advocates and LGBT activists have condemned the US government as it became one of just 13 countries, including China, to refuse to condemn the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.
Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner such as consensual same-sex relations.
Along with 13 other nations, the United States voted against it.
Instead, the U.S. sided with allies such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Bangladesh, China and India and voted against the measure, which still passed along a 27-13 margin.
“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,” according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA).
The resolution does not outlaw the use of the death penalty. Instead, it merely condemns its use in cases of “apostasy, blasphemy and adultery” an other similar instances.
“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” Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA said. “This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”
On his part, Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, said in a statement:
“Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships.
“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.”
Reacting to the criticisms, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a press briefing yesterday that the much of the reporting on the United States’ position on the resolution had been misleading, and that despite appearances the U.S. “unequivocally condemns” the application of the death penalty to homosexuality, adultery, and religious offenses.
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 3, 2017
There are currently six countries where the death penalty is used for people in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. This number rises to eight if the Isis-occupied territories of Iraq and Syria are included.
The full text of the U.N. resolution, which, in fact, calls upon all states that have not already abolished the death penalty to consider doing so, is here.