UN Official: “End Gay Executions”


Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Last week, the United Nations’ senior human rights official called on nations to permanently end legal discrimination against gays, which in some places includes capital punishment for consensual sex.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, made her announcement just days after President Barack Obama said the U.S. government will use foreign aid and diplomacy to promote gay rights internationally.

Pillay, whose four-year term as High Commission for Human Rights began in September 2008, also called on international governments to abolish all forms of abuse based on sexual orientation.

The High Commissioner’s urging was issued in a report that was released on December 15 to the United Nations Human Rights Council. In June that 47-nation panel voted to pass its first resolution condemning discrimination directed at LGBT persons.

Although the resolution was hailed by the U.S., its European allies, and other countries, it was condemned by a number of Muslim and African nations.

“Governments and inter-governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Pillay, the first non-white woman to serve on the High Court of South Africa. “On the basis of the information presented [in the report], a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response,” she noted.

The U.N. Human Rights Council report also condemned the ongoing practice of using the death penalty to punish same-sex relations in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, and called for legislation to decriminalize consenting gay sex in 76 other countries.

The report does not call for the legalization of same-sex marriage; however, it states that nations must take steps to guarantee that “unmarried same-sex couples are treated in the same way and entitled to the same benefits as unmarried opposite-sex couples.”

On December 6, President Obama announced that the United States would use all the tools at its disposal, including foreign aid, to promote gay equal rights internationally. That same day, in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised that the administration would fight attempts by countries to criminalize gay conduct, as well as efforts to abuse LGBT people, or ignore such abuse against them.

Clinton, appearing before the U.N. Human Rights Council, told the delegates, “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct, but in fact they are one and the same.”