US to Abstain from UN Human Rights/Sexual Orientation Resolution
In yet another affront to advocates of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights, the US State department disclosed at a briefing Tuesday plans to abstain from voting on a UN resolution condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Briefing attendee and Director of Amnesty International's OUTfront program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights, Michael Hefling told PlanetOut.com, "We are disappointed the U.S. is going to abstain. We believe the U.S. government is undermining the principle of universality of human rights."
The draft resolution on "Human Rights and Sexual Orientation," introduced by Brazil with over 20 co-sponsoring countries at the 59th session of the Commission on Human Rights, represents the first UN resolution calling for the promotion and defense of the human rights of all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to the National Gay Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). Voting, initially scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed for later this week. So far, Brazil, South Africa, and the European Union are among states supporting the measure.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the US cast the lone vote opposing a resolution (E/CN.4/2003/L.4) on the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, emphasizing the responsibility of States and international organizations in ensuring that anti-terrorism measures did not discriminate on grounds of race, color, descent or ethnic origin. The measure also urged States to eliminate racial discrimination in immigration laws, policies and practices.
These latest displays of intolerance by the Bush administration come just days after Republican Senate conference chair Rick Santorum (R-PA) made anti-gay remarks and blamed liberalism and feminism for the priest pedophilia scandal. Democrats and gay-rights advocates are demanding that he be removed from his leadership post-the third highest in the Republican Party.
Media Resources: Amnesty International 4/23/03; NGLTF 4/18/03; UN Commission on Human Rights 4/23/03; Feminist Daily News Wire