Human rights campaigners have condemned a United Nations vote that removed sexual orientation from a list identifying characteristics that make people particularly vulnerable to prejudice-motivated murder.
The list is part of a resolution which calls for countries to investigate “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings” that are motivated by prejudice and discrimination. It stresses the right to life of all people.
Prominent campaigner Peter Tatchell said, "This is a shameful day in United Nations history. It gives a de facto green light to the on-going murder of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people by homophobic regimes, death squads and vigilantes”.
The list highlights vulnerable groups and includes people belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, people belonging to indigenous communities and human rights defenders.
Sexual orientation was added to the resolution in 1999, over concern at the high number of murders motivated by homophobia.
The amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution was sponsored by Benin, representing the African Group attending the assembly. It was voted in with 79 votes in favour, 70 against and 17 abstentions.
Countries supporting the amendment included Cuba and South Africa.
Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission called the outcome of the vote a “dangerous and disturbing development.”
He added that it “essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalise homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalising homosexuality”.