Eighty-five countries including the United States issued a joint statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday expressing support for gay rights.

The statement expresses “concern at continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity” and calls on countries “to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love,” Eileen Chamberlain Donahue, U.S. ambassador to the council in Geneva, said in a statement. “The U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, applauded the move.

“The Administration has laudably reaffirmed its commitment to the philosophy that LGBT rights are human rights by joining today's statement before the U.N. Human Rights Council,” Solmonese said in a statement. “With over 89 nations jointly participating in the statement, the message is clear that hate violence against LGBT people should not be tolerated by any government.”

A 2008 United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of being gay was met with an equally forceful, Arab-backed statement opposing it. The statement, which gathered 66 signatures after it was read in the chamber, condemned homosexuality: “[Decriminalizing homosexuality could lead] to the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia.”

More than 80 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, outlaw sex between members of the same sex. Nine countries prescribe death as punishment.