The Human Rights Council of the United Nations recently presented and approved another resolution to condemn the use of the death penalty in general, but this time with a section in it that specifically condemns its use as a sanction against “apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same sex relations.” Many human rights activists across the world, including the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, celebrated the specific inclusion of the LGBTQ community in this resolution. However, they expressed their shock and were vehemently critical of the fact that the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) opposed the resolution.
The USUN’s nay vote was cited by many activists as additional proof of the United States’ declining support of human rights under President Trump’s administration. However, the United States has not supported any measures or proposals that could infringe upon our right to use the death penalty in general, and we do use it regularly at both the state and federal level. In fact, according to CNN’s report, the Obama administration abstained from voting on a similar measure in 2014.
Even the executive director of the global LGBTQ human rights organization OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, admits that there has been a lot of misunderstanding regarding the USUN vote. Stern explained to NBC News that the U.S. has always opposed this death penalty resolution, and will continue to do so as long as the death penalty is legal here. She also commented that her organization will “call out the Trump administration on its many rights violations, …but, it would be a mistake to interpret [the U.S.] opposition to a death penalty resolution [as] a change in policy.” That does make it appear that this is not really a party issue, although, it may have been best for us to have simply abstained again rather than voting against it.
ThinkProgress‘ report has a link to the actual four page resolution.
There are several things to consider in regards to this event. Is the death penalty a human rights issue? Should it be abolished completely? Should the United Nations have the authority to ban capital punishment? Would approving this anti-death penalty resolution have made it harder for the United States to withstand a future call by the United Nations to abolish the death penalty altogether? Finally, should the United States’ no vote be equated to anti-LGBTQ dogma?
It is about withdrawing support from LGBTQ human rights
Regardless of the commentary by Ambassador Nikki Haley or the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to the contrary, there is still an overwhelming accusation by many that the USUN vote is tantamount to an all out attack against the LGBTQ community.
— LGBTQ Nation (@lgbtqnation) October 5, 2017
US joins Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, China & Egypt in voting NO on UN resolution opposing death penalty for LGBTs https://t.co/oeJRY8nxtW
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 3, 2017
— CJ, Inspired🌊 (@ivesoncj) October 5, 2017
It is just about preserving our right to implement the death penalty
There are many people who believe that voting against a moratorium on the death penalty and voting in favor of allowing LGBTQ people to be put to death for their life choices is not the same thing. This is why the State Department clarified the United States vote at the UN Human Rights Council meeting.
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 3, 2017
Fact: There was NO vote by USUN that supported the death penalty for gay people. We have always fought for justice for the LGBT community.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) October 4, 2017
Liberals are mad at Trump for voting against LGBTQ at the UN but had no problem with Obama doing the same in 2014. pic.twitter.com/kPxkS00UTH
— Achmat X (@AchmatX) October 4, 2017
You also outraged that we're on the list of death penalty countries, or those who opposed UN resolution against death penalty for gays?
— No🕷️OrVisigoths 🌊 (@AlaricCDX) October 9, 2017
Given the background information gathered here, do you think the USUN vote against the Human Rights Council’s death penalty resolution should be considered an anti-LGBTQ action?