US Re-Opens Resolution to Push for “Sexual Orientation”
By Lauren Funk and Samantha Singson
NEW YORK, December 17, 2010 (C-FAM) - The United States celebrated Human Rights Day by declaring its intention to re-insert “sexual orientation” into a General Assembly resolution even after a majority of countries voted against it a few weeks ago.
Though it is rare for the General Assembly to reopen a resolution once it is passed at the committee level, at a UN panel last week, US Ambassador Susan Rice said, “We’re not done yet.” She encouraged nations to stand with the US in fighting to restore the reference to sexual orientation adding, “We intend to win this fight.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reportedly changed his schedule to join Rice and make an appearance at the panel. He called for the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world and the end to legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the international community.
Regardless of whether the US wins in building a coalition to reinsert the language into the resolution, the US itself is still not likely to vote on the amended resolution - they have abstained from voting on it for the past 10 years because of the language pertaining to armed conflict.
Delegations are concerned that the push to insert “sexual orientation” into the resolution has ulterior motives and have noted the US hypocrisy at pushing a controversial amendment to a resolution they will likely not even vote on.
When the resolution was first deliberated in November, countries objected to the inclusion of the “controversial and undefined term” of sexual orientation in the Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions resolution.
The bloc of Islamic countries said that they were “seriously concerned by the attempt to introduce such a controversial and undefined notion into the text” and noted with concern as well the “attempt to create new rights which were neither discussed nor agreed upon.”
A representative from the African Group went so far as to warn, “if the international community wishes to discuss sexual identity or orientation, then do so; don’t use such an important resolution as a vehicle for a controversial agenda.”
The Belgian moderator seemed to have the African Group’s previous statement in mind as they defended the reinsertion at Friday’s event, protesting that they were not lobbying for the recognition of new rights nor were they pushing a “liberal agenda to force such values on the rest of the UN.”
Belgium further claimed that it was not important whether sexual orientation or gender identity are clearly defined under international law, but that the reference was merely intended to provide special protection to that group.
The delegation of Suriname pointed out that there are other groups that needed protection and special attention, groups that did not have quite so strong a lobby behind them. “We at the UN cannot forget them,” he reminded the assembly on Friday.
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the EU joined the US to sponsor the panel. The vote on the US amendment is expected to take place next Monday in the General Assembly.