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US Against UN Ban On Death Penalty For Homosexuality

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The U.S. voted against a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution Sept. 29 that condemns the death penalty for those found guilty of same-sex relations and adultery.

The resolution, which passed 27 to 13, denounces the use of the death penalty "as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations," according to The Washington Blade.

It also argued that these types of laws subject people to the death penalty for expressing their rights to free speech. The resolution was co-introduced by Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland.

The U.S. joined countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India and Iraq in opposing the resolution. 

“It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in states where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love,” said Renato Sabbadini, the executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, in a press release. "This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end."

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The resolution contends that using the death penalty in that context is a violation of human rights, specifically rights to life, privacy and non-discrimination.

There are currently six countries that permit the death penalty as a form of punishment for same-sex relations: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and certain provinces of Nigeria and Somalia. According to Pink News, five other countries -- Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE -- permit the death penalty under a certain interpretation of Sharia law, but the punishment is not usually used.  

There were six attempts by Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia to amend the resolution, but they were all defeated by close margins. 

Andre du Plessis, head of U.N. Programme and Advocacy at the ILGA, said that the U.S. vote against the resolution should not be interpreted as a stance against homosexuality.

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"'No' votes on this resolution as a whole are generally best-interpreted as a position by a country on the death penalty as a whole," he said. "It is important to point out that a 'no' vote on the resolution is not addressing same-sex relations, but the wider application of death penalty generally. The United States has the death penalty and has a consistent record of voting no on resolutions that are against it."

Sources: The Washington Blade, Pink News / Featured Image: Paul VanDerWerf/Flickr / Embedded Images: mathiaswasik/Flickrsanjitbakshi/Flickr

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