A United Nations panel on human rights
has for the first time approved a resolution condemning
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The U.S.-backed resolution was approved
Friday in the 47-member Human Rights Council with a 23 to 19 vote,
with 3 abstentions, the AP reported.
Put forward by South Africa, the
resolution commissions a global inquiry into the discrimination and
mistreatment of LGBT people.
The U.S. State Department called its
passage a “historic step.”
“It calls for reporting on what's
going on, where people are being discriminated against, the violence
that is taking place, and it really puts the issue squarely on the
U.N.'s agenda going forward,” Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant
secretary of state for international organizations, told CNN.
In March, eighty-five countries
including the United States issued a non-binding declaration in
support of gay rights. The resolution, which expressed “concern at
continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related
human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender
identity” and called on counties “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,” was condemned by the Vatican.
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the
Vatican's representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva,
diplomats that people who oppose gay rights are at risk of losing
their human rights.
“People are being attacked for taking
positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the
same sex,” Tomasi said in a statement.
Tomasi also likened being gay to
pedophilia and incest.
“States can, and must, regulate
behaviours, including various sexual behaviours,” he said.
“Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that
certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law.
Pedophilia and incest are two examples.”
Friday's resolution, which also isn't
legally binding, was backed by the European Union, Brazil and other
Latin American countries. African and Islamic countries, however,
condemned the resolution, saying it had “nothing to do with
fundamental human rights.”