The United States joined 12 other
nations in voting against a United Nations resolution condemning the
use of the death penalty to punish same-sex relations.
“The Question of the Death Penalty”
cleared the United Nations Human Rights Council with a 27-13 vote,
with 7 abstentions, on Friday. Members who voted against the
resolution included Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh,
China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
and the United States.
The resolution asks countries where the
death penalty is legal to “ensure that it is not imposed as a
sanction for specific forms of conduct such as apostasy, blasphemy,
adultery and consensual same-sex relations” 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), there are six
countries where having sex with a member of the same sex is
considered a crime and the death penalty is routinely implemented.
In an additional five countries capital punishment is on the books
but not pursued.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, criticized the Trump
administration's stance on the resolution.
“Ambassador [Nikki] 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,”
said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “While the U.N. 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
During a press briefing on Tuesday,
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert defended the United
States' position, saying that they had hoped to vote on a narrower
resolution. Nauert added that the U.S. does not consider gay sex
“appropriate for criminalization.”
“As our representative to the Human
Rights Council said last Friday, the United States is disappointed to
have voted against that resolution,” Nauert said. “We voted
against that resolution because of broader concerns with the
resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all
circumstances, and it called for the abolition of the death penalty
altogether. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that
would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply
the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does. The United
States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty
for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy.
We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization.”
The resolution, in fact, asks states
that have not yet abolished the death penalty to
consider doing so.