United Nations passed a historical LGBT* rights resolution

An LGBT rights resolution was adopted on Friday by the United Nations Human Rights Council on a vote of 25–14, with seven abstentions.

The resolution is rather anemic, simply calling for a report from the U.N. high commissioner for human rights on combatting human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But it is one of the few times a U.N. body has adopted a resolution affirming LGBT rights are human rights, and so LGBT advocates see it as an important precedent in empowering officials throughout the U.N. system to work on LGBT rights.

The proposal’s opponents — led by Egypt and other members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation — fought determinedly to defeat the proposal, which they framed as a form of cultural imperialism and an attack on Islam.

“We feel there is an attempt to impose uniculturality” that “runs counter to religious and cultural practices of some countries,” said Saudi Arabia’s representative during debate. The language “In my opinion, this [resolution] is a human rights violation.”

But several amendments intended to gut the bill failed, and the final vote suggests the these arguments are losing ground even in the regional blocs that have historically been the most unified in opposing U.N. language supporting LGBT rights. Congo, Sierra Leone, and Namibia broke with most of the rest of the Africa bloc to abstain on the resolution, a kind of soft “yes” vote. Kazakhstan, a member of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, abstained as well. The vote was far more lopsided than when a virtually identical resolution was voted on in 2011, when it passed by a vote of 29–19 with three abstentions.

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