The Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration will endorse a United Nations resolution that calls for the universal decriminalization of being gay; reversing the position of the Bush administration.

The news agency quotes an unnamed source as saying the U.S. has notified French officials – the resolution was sponsored by France and the Netherlands at the request of gay activist Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) – that the administration has agreed to support the resolution.

The United States was the only western government refusing to sign on.

The news agency says the official spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress has yet to be briefed on the matter. He said the United States was concerned about “violence and human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual individuals” and was also “troubled by the criminalization of sexual orientation in many countries.”

“In the words of the United States Supreme Court, the right to be free from criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation 'has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom',” the official said.

The resolution was read in December and supported by 66 countries, including all European countries, Canada, Japan and Mexico.

Gay rights leaders in the United States were appalled to learn of the Vatican's opposition to the resolution because it might promote gay marriage.

“As faith leaders we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative,” a coalition of gay rights leaders said in a statement. “Most Catholics, and indeed most Catholic teachings, tell us that all people are entitled to live with basic human dignity without the threat of violence.”

The statement signed on by the Human Rights Campaign, along with faith program directors from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and National Black Justice Coalition also urged “U.S. leaders to stand against discrimination.”

The U.N. resolution carries no power of law, but it does send a powerful signal to the world. It condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And declares that targeting gays for executions or killings, torture, arbitrary arrest or deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights is wrong.

The pro-gay resolution was met with an equally forceful, Arab-backed statement opposing it. The anti-gay statement was read out by a Syrian delegate and gathered more than 60 signatures.

It condemned homosexuality: “[Decriminalizing] homosexuality could lead] to the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia.”