17 June 2011
UN Human Rights Council Endorses GLBT Rights For First Time
The United Nations endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people for the first time ever on June 17, passing a resolution hailed as historic by the U.S. and other backers and decried by African and Islamic countries.
The declaration was cautiously worded, expressing "grave concern" about abuses suffered by people because of their sexual orientation, and commissioning a global report on discrimination of gays. But activists called it a remarkable shift on an issue that has been strongly opposed by large factions of the world’s largest religious communities and divided the global body for decades.
Following tense negotiations, members of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly voted in favor of the declaration put forward by South Africa, with 23 votes in favor and 19 against. Backers included the United States, the European Union, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Those against included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan. China, Burkina Faso and Zambia abstained, Kyrgyzstan didn't vote and Libya was earlier suspended from the rights body.
AAI hails the vote and notes that GLBT discrimination is primarily a religious issue, with conservative sects in most of the world’s largest religions condemning people with same-sex orientation as inherently sinful / evil. It is notable that most of the countries who voted against the resolution are countries where conservative religious sects and views dominate the government to the demotion and detriment of human rights among the country’s populace.