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After Outcry, U.S. Clarifies Its U.N. Vote Against Death Penalty Ban Including For LGBTs

But some LGBTQ and human rights advocates are dissatisfied with the State Department's explanation.
Nikki Haley

The State Department clarified its “no” vote on a United Nations resolution condemning the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations” following an outcry from LGBTQ and human rights advocates.

The resolution, which you can read HERE, passed the United Nations Human Rights Council with 27 nations voting in favor, 13 voting against and seven abstentions. The United States joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move.

“We voted against that resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman. “The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy. We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization.”

Jessica Stern, the executive director of OutRight Action International, a global LGBTQ human rights organization, acknowledged the U.S. vote on the U.N. resolution was misreported in a statement to NBC News:

There’s been some misreporting and misconceptions. The U.S. always opposes this death penalty resolution, because it makes reference to a global moratorium on the death penalty. For both Obama and Trump, so long as the death penalty is legal in the U.S., it takes this position.

OutRight will call out the Trump administration on its many rights violations, its many abuses of power from LGBTI violations to xenophobia, but this particular instance is not an example of a contraction of support on LGBTI rights. It would be a mistake to interpret its opposition to a death penalty resolution to a change in policy.

Some LGBTQ advocates have expressed their dissatisfaction with the State Department’s clarification, however.

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  • Alan is a writer and editor who lives in New York City. His work has been featured in such publications as Salon, The Advocate, Plus Magazine, The Huffington Post, Spoiled NYC, Towleroad, Distractify, Elite Daily, and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film.

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