united nations

Ambassador Rice Wants The UN To Protect Gays From State-Sponsored Slaughter. Without America’s Vote

The Obama administration’s seemingly hypocritical stances aren’t limited to domestic issues like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (publicly denounce the law, then defend it in court while doing nearly nothing to push through a legislative repeal). They’re also alive and well on the world stage. Like the United Nations. Where the U.S. was, supposedly, disappointed to see an anti-senseless-murder resolution move forward without LGBT protections. So, says U.S. ambassador Susan E. Rice, the United States will push to add an amendment to the resolution that will protect queers. Not that the U.S. will necessarily vote for it. Uh, really?

The measure — titled “UN Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Execution” — effectively updates the U.N.’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by barring member nations from, literally, slaughtering human beings without good reason. Sounds like a reasonable thing to adhere to, right? Then how come the United States won’t even vote in support of it?

America has abstained from voting on the measure every single year it has ever come up. Just like they did again last month, where Arab and African nations led by Morocco and Mali succeeded in excluding sexual orientation from the list of vulnerable people that don’t deserve to have a machete slice their heads off because of the way they were born.

Why won’t the U.S. won’t vote for the resolution? Because we regularly engage in murdering people in a way that, uh, violates this resolution. (I’m sure there are some policy wonks out there about to get on my case about why the U.S. really won’t vote for the resolution, and I welcome their expertise.)

Which makes Ambassador Rice’s comments — that she wants to introduce a LGBT-inclusive amendment to the resolution — both preposterous and sickening. How can the U.S. back an amendment that bars state-sponsored murder of gays (hello, Uganda) and then provide no indication it’ll actually vote for it? That’s like Obama proposing economic reform, and then saying that, well, he’s not sure he’ll vote for it. Or saying gays shouldn’t be discriminated against in the military, but not using his executive power to stop it. In a word, the gesture is meaningless. It shows that when it comes to global gays, the U.S. has no real convictions, only sketches of them.

Speaking Friday (on Human Rights Day, which celebrates the U.N. ratifying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), Rice said she plans to introduce the amendment when the General Assembly meets against Dec. 20.

Around the world, laws that criminalize gay relationships don’t just violate human rights. They hinder social cohesion, economic development, and public health. They reduce trust and cooperation among nations. So the United States will work together with our fellow Core Group members to urge countries that still have such laws to repeal them. And I hope we will all work together to develop a sustained, serious plan of action to decriminalize homosexuality around this world that we share.

Here at the United Nations, like many of you, I was incensed by the recent vote in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which eliminated any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world. We fought hard for that reference when it came to a Committee vote, and we lost. But we’re not done yet. The resolution now goes to the full General Assembly. For countries that voted in the Committee to keep the reference to sexual orientation, we thank you. For countries that haven’t yet done so, we urge you to join us. And for countries that have supported this reference in the past but changed course this year, we urge you to stand again with us and with all vulnerable people around the world at risk of violence. We are going to fight to restore the reference to sexual orientation. We’re going to stand firm on this basic principle. And we intend to win.

And then she will leave the room, because the U.S. isn’t voting for it.