(Co-authored by Lauren Funk)

NEW YORK, December 23 (C-FAM) – The United States made good on its promise to force a vote on “sexual orientation” in the General Assembly this week angering many delegations from the global south.

With support from the European Union, the Nordic countries and Canada, the US launched a massive campaign to re-insert “sexual orientation” into a UN resolution before final approval in the General Assembly. Reportedly, the US was working “at the highest levels” to push countries to support its amendment. 

The US move followed in the wake of a vote in a lower level committee last month, when opponents of the “sexual orientation” language won their bid to have the language removed. The deletion of that term caught its supporters off-guard because “sexual orientation” had been included in the resolution on “Summary, Arbitrary, or Extrajudicial Executions” for the past 10 years.

The bid was successful and in a last-minute reversal, UN member states voted to reinsert of the contentious language on “sexual orientation.”  An analysis of the vote shows that 23 countries, consisting mainly of small island states and countries from Latin America & the Caribbean, changed their positions from November’s vote that allowed the US motion to carry.

The fact that the US abstained from supporting the final resolution despite the passage of their amendment caused some to question the real motive of the US maneuvering.

Delegations who originally voted to remove the language reiterated concerns over the “undefined and controversial” term “sexual orientation,” citing the reality that there is “no foundation in any international legal or human rights instrument that justifies its inclusion” in the resolution.

The Islamic countries vowed that they “will continue to reject” the misinterpretation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights treaties to include notions that were “never approved by the general membership of the UN.”

One delegation blasted the US-led attempt to reintroduce “sexual orientation” into the text as “international legal adventurism.” 

South Africa, who reversed its original position to support the US amendment, took the floor to assert that propagating the issue in such a manner did nothing to help advance the “sexual orientation” cause. South Africa called for an intergovernmental process to discuss a definition of the term.

Some observers expressed deep concern that at least three delegations quoted a recent controversial speech by UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon in support of the US amendment.  Ban had claimed that “sexual orientation” was part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although that document makes no reference to the term.

President Obama applauded supporters of the US amendment.  In a statement, Obama said, “While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination.” 

The high-level political pressure exerted in this resolution caps an aggressive year-long campaign by the Obama administration to push “sexual orientation” issues at the UN and domestically.  On Wednesday, President Obama signed legislation that ended the ban on homosexuals from serving openly in the US military.


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