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Gay killings back on UN rights agenda

The UN General Assembly on Tuesday voted to put gays and lesbians back on a list of vulnerable minorities who should be protected from unjustified killings following a major US-led diplomatic campaign.


A mainly Arab and African-led move had killings over “sexual orientation” taken off a list of people unfairly targeted, when an biannual resolution was discussed by a UN rights committee last month.

The US government said it was “incensed” and launched a major campaign with European and other nations to get “sexual orientation” killings put back on the blacklist when the vote came before the full UN General Assembly.

“Today, the United Nations General Assembly has sent a clear and resounding message that justice and human rights apply to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation,” said US ambassador Susan Rice after the 93-55 vote.

“The voices of civil society and human rights defenders around the world have been heard today, and for that my delegation is especially proud,” Rice added.

Since 1999 the resolution has called for thorough investigation of “all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.”

According to Human Rights Watch, it was the only UN resolution in the field with an explicit reference to sexual orientation.

Benin, supported by Morocco, introduced the amendment which was narrowly passed at the UN General Assembly rights committee on November 16.

Boris Dittrich, director of Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender program, commented: “Countries that tried to roll back crucial protections for gay and lesbian people have been defeated.”

He added: “Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity must be countered just like hate crimes on the basis of race or religion.”

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